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Sister Helen Prejean on Campus for "Dead Man Walking"


The School of Music, Theatre & Dance welcomes author Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ, on Thursday, November 13 at 3PM in Rackham Auditorium, where she will present a lecture, "Dead Man Walking, the Journey Continues," as part of the Sally Fleming Master Class series. The event is free and open to the public.

The presentation is in conjunction with SMTD performances of the opera Dead Man Walking, which take place November 13 at 7:30PM, November 14 and 15 at 8PM, and November 16 at 2PM at the Power Center for the Performing Arts in Ann Arbor. Sister Prejean will also lead a post-show discussion following the Thursday evening performance.

Directed by associate professor Kay Walker Castaldo, the Dean Man Walking performances feature the University Symphony Orchestra under the baton of guest conductor Jerome Shannon. The production is double cast and will be sung in English with projected English supertitles.

A member of the Congregation of St. Joseph, Sister Helen Prejean began working at Hope House in New Orleans in the early 1980s. During that time, she became the spiritual adviser to a death row inmate Patrick Sonnier at Angola State Penitentiary. After witnessing Sonnier's execution, she wrote a book about the experience, Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States. Since 1984, Sister Helen has divided her time between educating citizens about the death penalty and counseling individual death row prisoners. Dead Man Walking was adapted for the stage and screen by Tim Robbins, winning an Academy Award. The book was recently re-released in a 20th Anniversary edition.

The opera Dead Man Walking, commissioned by the San Francisco Opera, was the first opera composed by Jake Heggie in collaboration with award-winning playwright Terrence McNally (Master Class, Love! Valor! Compassion!). It  premiered in October 2000 in San Francisco and has received more than 40 productions throughout the United States and internationally.

Also in connection with the performances, a curated exhibition of art by current and formerly incarcerated individuals will be on display in the Power Center lobby for the month of November, presented by the U-M Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP). PCAP was founded in 1990 with a mission to collaborate with incarcerated adults, incarcerated youth, urban youth, and the formerly incarcerated to strengthen our community through creative expression. Housed in the U-M's Residential College, faculty and students work with community members both inside and outside prisons to engage in workshops in theatre, dance, visual art, creative writing, slam poetry, and music. Annually, PCAP hosts one of the largest prisoner art exhibitions in the world and publishes a literary journal of writing by incarcerated authors. For more information, visit the PCAP website



past news

September 2017
March 2014

U-M UpstART Festival Begins 03/31/2014

Students Present "Wall-to-Wall Theatre Festival" 03/27/2014

First-Ever SMTD Chamber Music Competition Launches April 5 03/27/2014

Doctoral Fellow Named MTNA Distinguished Composer of the Year 03/26/2014

Theatre Student Lands Major TV Role 03/25/2014

Elizabeth Batiuk (ethnomusicology) has been chosen as a fellow at the Sweetland/Rackham Dissertation Writing Institute for spring 2014 and James McNally (ethnomusicology) received a summer and academic year FLAS for the study of Portuguese.    03/17/2014

Musicology graduate student Elizabeth McLain has been awarded a prestigious Lurcy Fellowship for research in France during the 2014-2015 academic year.   03/14/2014

December 2013

SMTD students Zoe Kumagai, Stephanie Aboukasm, and Adam DesJardins are among students profiled in an LSA article about the "Michigan in Washington" program, in which students intern at various Washington, DC organizations and businesses, including the National Symphony Orchestra, the Kennedy Center, and the Washington Performing Arts Society.    12/10/2013

October 2013
August 2013

Evan Zegiel, a sophomore who studies with Fritz Kaenzig, was the First Place winner in the Tuba Student division of the 2013 Leonard Falcone International Euphonium & Tuba Festival.     08/21/2013

July 2013

Professor Ashley Lucas and three Theatre & Drama students are engaged in an intensive exchange program with UniRio in Rio de Janiero, Brazil this summer, where they are blogging about their experiences in UniRio's prison arts program and more.   07/12/2013

November 2011
August 2011
June 2011
Sister Helen Prejean (photo by Scott Langley)
Current Student News
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2018 SMTD Concerto Competition Winners Announcedmore

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Photography Credits:

U-M Photo Services

Joe Welsh

Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

Tom Bower