RTA Rehabilitation Through the Arts

RTA Rehabilitation Through the Arts

The Rehabilitation Through The Arts (RTA) program was founded in 1996 at Sing Sing Maximum Security Correctional Facility in Ossining, NY. It is a registered tax-exempt non-profit organization that is not funded by any state or federal program. The program was created to help fill the gap left after all publicly funded higher education and enrichment programs were withdrawn from the New York State Prisons system.


Volunteer Katherine Vockins, working in collaboration with the prison administration, community volunteers/theater professionals and the prisoner population, developed RTA to create a safe space in which to support the growth and transformation of prisoners through the application of theater arts. [ [http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/27/nyregion/nyregionspecial2/27topicwe.html?ex=1338004800&en=c5db82de5703b1b7&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink New York Times: For Inmates, a Stage Paved With Hope] May 27, 2007] This program and others have shown that the use of dramatic techniques leads to significant improvements in the cognitive behavior of the program's participants inside prison and a reduction in recidivism once paroled. [ [http://www.p-c-i.org/rta.php Rehabilitation Through the Arts homepage] ]

RTA is a program of Prison Communities International Inc. (PCI). PCI is a non-profit organization dedicated to criminal justice issues. PCI believes in the inherent value of every human being, including criminal offenders, and recognizes the need for dialogue among all stakeholders about making changes in our criminal justice system, from a punitive to a rehabilitative stance.


RTA's goal is to use theater arts to offer prisoners a safe and supportive rehabilitation structure in which to build skills, to develop leadership, community, and respect for self and for others, and to recognize a sense of achievement. In the often brutalizing and harsh prison environment, these are precious and rare attributes.

The Program

RTA runs year round. Prisoners meet with RTA staff, volunteers and guest artists twice a week in 2-hour workshops and classes that teach writing, reading, public speaking, improvisation, acting, directing, stage management, set design and more. In the course of their study , prisoners learn to communicate a compelling story fully and clearly through the process of creative writing, whether it be in developing a play, building personal narrative in journal writing, or composing a poem. Perhaps more importantly, the participants discover that their own histories, experiences, imaginations and insights are dramatic, that the work they put in is valuable, and that their stories are worth telling and hearing. Out of the workshops emerge original plays, monologues and performance pieces that are performed twice each year for the entire prison population and invited community guests.

Theatrical Productions

The following plays were produced as a part of the Rehabilitation Through The Arts theatre workshop program at Sing Sing Correctional Facility, Ossining, NY:

1.Stories from the Inside Out

2.The N_____ Trial

3.Breakin' the Mummy's Code [ [http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4661515 NPR: Singing (and Acting) at Sing Sing] May 21, 2005]


5.Fine Print

6.12 Angry Men [ [http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/13/theater/newsandfeatures/13men.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss New York Times: "Two Once-Angry Men Revisit a Prison Triump"] Nov. 13, 2004.]

7.Stratford's Decision [ [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F05E5DD1438F932A35751C1A9649C8B63&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss New York Times: "Behind Walls of Sing Sing; Inmates Find Freedom Onstage"] Dec. 1, 2002.]

8.Reality in Motion


10.Voices From Within

11.A Few Good Men

12.One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

13.The Sacrifice

14.An Evening of Theatre, Four Original One-Act Plays

15.When We're Home

16.Reality in Motion

Productions Outside of Sing Sing Prison:

1.Back House Productions

2.The "Nigger" Trial

3.Voices From the Inside

Benefits and Events

RTA held its first ever New York City Benefit Performance "From Sing Sing to Broadway – An Evening Without Walls" on Monday, June 5, 2006, at Playwrights Horizons Theatre, 416 West 42nd Street, with special guest performance by Charles Dutton.

A benefit is also scheduled for the fall of 2008. Featuring performance by graduates of RTA, "RTA on the River" will take place on October 29, 2008 at Chelsea Piers. [ [http://www.rtaontheriver.org RTA on the River] October 29, 2008]

Board Members

The acting board members of RTA are: Katherine Vockins; Suzanne Kessler; William Hanauer; Neal Keller; Hans Hallundbaek; Riki Gold Theatre; Gregory Frederick; Jens Schott Knudsen; Nizan Geslevich and Raji Mangat.


RTA, a privately funded program, was made possible through support from such generous donors as The Kalliopeia Foundation, The Community Foundation, The Sunshine Lady Foundation , The Puffin Foundation, and Robert E. and Judith O. Rubin Foundation, as well as numerous church groups and individual supporters.

The Rehabilitation Through The Arts, a program of Prison Communities International


External links

* [http://www.p-c-i.org/rta Rehabilitation Through the Arts homepage]
* [http://www.rtaontheriver.org RTA on the River | October 29, 2008 Event in New York City]
* [http://www.nationalinstituteofcorrections.gov/Library/021989 National Institute of Corrections]
* [http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/27/nyregion/nyregionspecial2/27topicwe.html?ex=1338004800&en=c5db82de5703b1b7&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink Hodara, Susan, "For Inmates, a Stage Paved With Hope", New York Times, May 27, 2007.]
* [http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rehabilitation-Through-the-Arts/26146751021 RTA Facebook page]
* [http://www.p-c-i.org/press/MollerStudy.pdf Moller, Lorraine, Ph.D "The Impact of RTA on Social and Institutional Behavior", Executive Summary, John Jay College of Criminal Justice]
* [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F05E5DD1438F932A35751C1A9649C8B63&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss Lombardi, K. Stone "Behind Walls of Sing Sing; Inmates Find Freedom Onstage", New York Times, Dec. 1, 2002.]
* [http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/13/theater/newsandfeatures/13men.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss McKinley, Jesse "Two Once-Angry Men Revisit a Prison Triump", New York Times, Nov. 13, 2004.]
* [http://www.p-c-i.org/press/JournalNews121805.pdf Ellan, Susan, "Program Sets the Stage for Change", The Journal News, Dec. 18, 2005.]
* [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B00E7DC1E3CF934A15750C0A9679C8B63 Hubert B., "Westchester Journal; Among the Comfortable, Prison Issues Stir Unease", New York Times, Mar. 27, 2001.]

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