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Northwest Missouri State University

News Release

March 30, 2011

Playwright to perform award-winning solo show, develop new play with students at Northwest

By Nichole Beckman, media relations assistant

MARYVILLE, Mo. - The award-winning prison drama "Killadelphia" will be performed at Northwest Missouri State University at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 12, in the Charles Johnson Theater and include a post-show discussion with the show's playwright and actor Sean Christopher Lewis.

The production is free and open to the public.

"Killadelphia" incorporates hip hop and documentary theatre techniques to weave together the story of murdered teaching fellow Beau Zabel with interviews from "Lifers at Graterford Prison," a group of men employed in prison to paint some 2,000 murals seen throughout the city of Philadelphia. Lauded as "epic ... must see theater" by, the solo piece is based on playwright and actor Sean Christopher Lewis' time working with inmates at Graterford Prison.

The play explores violence, penance and second chances in a no-holds-barred look at the Urban American Dream. The inmates' stories are bolstered by lyrics, speeches and thoughts of local rap artists, city officials, emergency room technicians and everyday citizens.

Touring for two years, the play has garnered praise including the 2010 National New Play Network Smith Prize for Drama, the Central Ohio Theatre Circle citation for Best Touring Production and a Barrymore Nomination for Best Collaboration for the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia.

As a guest artist in residence at Northwest, Lewis is spending three weeks on campus teaching students about playwriting and play development. During his residency, Lewis is developing a new play with Northwest students, speaking in classes and leading workshops. His performance and residency at Northwest is funded in part through the Northwest Academic Initiatives Project.

"Having Lewis present for the performance will allow students to hear and encounter the issues and challenges raised within this play," said Amanda Petefish-Schrag, assistant professor in the Department of Communication, Theatre and Languages. "Lewis not only provides insight into a specific culture, but explores issues that impact all of us."

For more information contact Petefish-Schrag at 660.562.1045 or

For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468