How to Change the World with Stories? A Performance & Dialogue with Bryonn Bain

November 20, -
Speaker(s): Bryonn Bain
Prison activist and hip hop theater innovator Bryonn Bain performs excerpts of his award winning one-man show Lyrics from Lockdown. This multimedia theatrical production, bringing together hip hop theater, spoken word poetry, blues, movement, comedy, calypso and classical music, weaves personal stories of being racially profiled and unjustly jailed with the story of Nanon Williams who has been wrongfully incarcerated for over 30 years. Bain will reflect on his life-long activism in prisons worldwide, and how his theatrical storytelling engages the movement to end mass incarceration. His performance will be followed by a conversation with Bain, Dr. Eileen Chow (Asian and Middle Eastern Studies), Dr. James Chappel (Prison Engagement Initiative), and Dr. Mark Anthony Neal (African American Studies), moderated by Dr. Jingqiu Guan (Duke Dance Program).
BRYONN BAIN is a poet, prison activist, actor, author, educator, hip hop theater innovator and spoken word champion. Since 1989, Bryonn has brought art and education to universities worldwide, and into prisons in 25 states around the country - from Rikers Island, Sing Sing and Folsom prison, to Cambridge University in the United Kingdom and Royal Muteesa University in Uganda. Wrongfully imprisoned in his second year at Harvard Law, Bryonn wrote the Village Voice cover story "Walking While Black: The Bill of Rights for Black America" - which went viral and set a record for over 100,000 responses, before telling his story to 20 million viewers on "60 Minutes." His award winning one-man, hip hop theater production, Lyrics From Lockdown - executive produced by Harry Belafonte - shares his experience of unjust incarceration, and the connection it sparked with Nanon Williams, a poet wrongfully sentenced to Death Row at 17 years old. Bain taught the first dramatic arts course on hip hop and spoken word at Harvard, and the first Oxford University writing and performing arts workshop live streamed to an American prison. A Tony nominated theater maker, Bain has sold-out performances on three continents, and received standing ovations at the Apollo Theater, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. A producer of "For Colored Girls..." on Broadway, Bain was featured in the Emmy Award winning "LA Stories." Performing in prisons worldwide for over three decades, Bain co-directs the Center for Justice and founded the Prison Education Program at UCLA. For more visit: Please RSVP to reserve a seat.

Dance Program


African and African American Studies (AAAS); Franklin Humanities Institute (FHI); Kenan Institute for Ethics; Music; Theater Studies

How to Change the World with Stories? A Performance & Dialogue with Bryonn Bain


Shipman, Dierdre