Judy Dworin performance worth your time

Time In performs in Hartford on Saturday/ContributedHARTFORD — It begins with a story about a place where wayward women go to learn how to live properly. In the beginning, the number was trivial. But today 1,400 women are incarcerated at York Correctional Institute. Time In by the Judy Dworin Performance Project, tells their stories in an emotive, potent way. And for now, tonight (Saturday) is the last night to see this creative, stirring performance.

Through dance, spoken word, sign language and amazing harmonies by the Women of the Cross trio, the performance tells the tails of incarcerated women overlooked by society. It shows how in prison, time stops. Gone are the days of  taking the kids to practice, getting them to school on time, and going to work. Now the second hand barely ticks. The calendar, it seems, never changes months.

Why did this happen? After the performance, through a discussion with four female ex-convicts, we learned that imprisoned women are just that. They’re women, moms, daughters, spouses, friends, siblings. But most of them never got a chance to “live properly” in society. The courts convicted them for their crimes, but never stopped to hear their circumstances.  Maybe the courts should go to tonight’s performance and hear about the abuse too many of them endured. Fathers, husbands, uncles, friends, mom’s lovers – they raped them. They molested them. They dragged them by their hair and scorched them with cigarettes. The women of York made bad choices because of fear, anger, confusion.

The performance doesn’t shy away from their tragic, hard-to-hear stories. The audience learns how so many of them turned to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain. But ultimately, their addictions landed them in prison. Now, 1,440 minutes at a time (or one year) they’re wondering what they’re missing. They’re learning a new language, “check in, check out, don’t touch the glass, don’t shout.” But they don’t know how to surf the Web, use a cell phone, play a DVD. And worse, although time stops inside the prison, outside their children are growing. They’re driving. They’re dating. They’re having sex. They’re graduating. Mom’s not there to help them through these milestones.

The performance, although heavy, isn’t all doom and gloom.  It’s a message of hope. It’s a message that although 1,400 women are behind bars at York, they can be free. They can dance. They can sing. They can write. They can paint. For now, that’s their freedom.

See it for yourself tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Charter Oak Cultural Center, 21 Charter Oak Ave. in Hartford. Tickets $20, or $10 for seniors and GHAC Let’s Go! members, and $5 for students.

To learn more about Time In click here.

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