"In My Corner" for the San Quentin Prison General Population
Finding your unique voice and identity is important for everyone. JOPP brought a jazz ensemble and boxer-tap dancer Joe Orrach to San Quentin Prison to illustrate, for the general inmate population, the finding of identiy and voice through a performing arts piece.
The show encourages incarcerated people to tell their own stories as part of their rehabilitation, making this event more than just entertainment for San Quentin residents who made up the audience in the Prison Chapel where JOPP has performed.
The performance was featured on the first page of the San Quentin News:
“I had never seen anyone act out his whole life all by himself,” wrote San Quentin resident Loren Mears. "The former boxer appeared to be in fight condition as he moved vigorously, without breaks, throughout the 75-minute show."
On stage with Orrach were composer and keyboard player Matthew Clark and percussionist Dan Gonzalez. They skillfully blended their supporting sounds with Orrach’s movement and narrative.
Pauses in the act were consistently met with applause and the audience frequently broke into laughter.
"Orrach told his story with humor, passion, and intensity in English (with a Bronx accent) and in Spanish (drawing on his Puderto Rican roots). When he lapsed into Spanish, it invariably evoked laughter from Spanish-speaking audience members, who seemed to share an inside joke. Bilingual audience member Luis Figuera confirmed that Orrach was indeed sharing some good-natured fun with his fellow Spanish speakers."
A promotional flyer explained that “Orrach and his team work to illustrate the challenges and importance of finding one’s unique voice and identity.”
Orrach has presented the show in a juvenile facility, but this was the first performance in an adult prison. "After the show, audience members responded with a standing ovation and lined up to shake Orrach’s hand, thank him, and praise the performance.
Orrach, perspiring heavily from the intensity of the performance, looked like a boxer after a fight."