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Life and death at the Weekend Theater

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“The Exonerated,” a moving Off-Broadway play that’s been one of the most popular small-house theater shows in New York for several years, will be performed at the Weekend Theater beginning Friday, Nov. 4.

The show, staged as a dramatic reading, is based on actual stories of people throughout the United States who were wrongly convicted and sentenced to death. Some languished in prison for many years before late evidence or other circumstances intervened to save them. On opening night, David Kaczynski, the brother of “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski, will appear as a guest of the Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty after the play in a “talkback” session.

Six separate stories, told in alternating style by the “Exonerated” actors and supporting cast, make up the show. Authors Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen took their material from actual testimonies, arranging them in monologues punctuated with poetry composed by one of the former prisoners. Greg Chatman, Drew Ellis, Jermaine McClure, Martin Maize, Anne Stermock and Alan Douglas are the “Exonerated” actors.

Frank Butler will direct. People on either side of the death penalty issue should find the play compelling, he said.

“What gets me about this play is that these are ordinary people, robbed of their innocence and freedom by a judiciary system that, in its pursuit of justice, turned both a blind eye and a deaf ear to the truth,” Butler said.

Showtimes are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday this weekend and Nov. 11-12 and Nov. 18-19. Admission is $14 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. The theater is at Seventh and Chester streets (across from Vino’s). Call 374-3761 for reservations.

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