Hopkins was honored to host a one-night-only showing of Felon: An American Washi Tale, a solo performance by Reginald Dwayne Betts on the Townshend Auditorium stage on Wednesday, May 18, 2022. Betts is not only a New Haven poet and Yale Law School Ph.D. candidate, he is also a MacArthur Genius Fellow, the first Hopkins Writer-in-Residence, and a current Hopkins parent.
The performance began with an introduction by English Department Chair Joseph Addison and students Ayelet K. ’22 and Andrew S. ’22, who took Betts’ poetry elective in the Spring of 2021.
Felon: An American Washi Tale is an adaptation of Betts’ critically-acclaimed book of poetry, Felon. The show begins with the pages of a book being slid into a cell, traverses stoves made of toilet paper, kites from a father, handwritten affidavits, legal complaints, handmade paper, certificates of pardon, & 1,000 squares fashioned from the clothing of men serving life sentences. Betts weaves traditional theater, poetry, fine art, and Japanese paper making aesthetic principles into a meditation on his own experiences of incarceration and his legal work to free friends that are still in prison. This reflection on the challenges of living in the shadow of mass incarceration is a story of violence, love, and fatherhood. Betts is the founder of Freedom Reads, a first-of-its-kind organization working to radically transform access to literature in prisons. Click here to read the performance program.
Following the performance, the audience participated in a Q&A session with Betts, moderated by English teachers Terence Mooney & Shanti Madison. A book signing in the lobby concluded the evening.
Hopkins is a private middle school and high school for grades 7-12. Located on a campus overlooking New Haven, CT, the School takes pride in its intellectually curious students as well as its dedicated faculty and staff.