Prisoner's Song in Detroit

The innovative multimedia performance Prisoner’s Song by New York-based composer Gelsey Bell and Philadelphia-based (and Detroit-raised) visual artist Erik Ruin uses shadow puppets, projections and a variety of musical idioms to portray the prison experience. It draws on historic ballads, poetry, audio interviews with people who have spent time in prison, and other primary sources, allowing audiences to encounter the states of mind and heart that prison engenders. The New York Times calls Prisoner’s Song “uncomfortably powerful … evoking the restrictive and impoverished reality of incarceration even as it pays tribute to the resilience, ingenuity and poetry that can transcend it.”

We are working to raise funds that will be matched, so that Prisoner's Song can come to Detroit for four Detroit performances in 2018. Prisoner’s Song has been performed for enthusiastic audiences across the Eastern Seaboard, but has yet to travel to the Midwest. These premiere Detroit presentations will be held in four different locations. The events will be free and open to the public. A dialogue event with the artists and the community, including the formerly incarcerated and representatives from groups who work with those in prison, will also take place following each performance.

Prisoner's Song is supported by a matching grant from the John L. and James S. Knight Foundation as part of the Knight Arts Challenge. Donated dollars may be matched by this grant, doubling your contribution. Your donation is tax-deductible through the Miami Foundation, which serves as our fiscal sponsor.

We have set up a GoFundMe to raise the matching funds:

Thank you for your support!


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  • Greg Wahl 
    • $20 
    • 32 mos
    • $50 
    • 32 mos
  • Nadine Gizak 
    • $25 
    • 32 mos
  • Hane Lee 
    • $50 
    • 32 mos
  • Alison Linn 
    • $25 
    • 32 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Greg Baise 
Detroit, MI
The Miami Foundation 
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