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Coming to Eastern State Aug 13 & 14: An Immersive Play that Brings Audiences into the Deep End of the U.S. Prison System

-- Formerly Incarcerated Playwright and Cast Members Cross the Country this Summer with a Play Set in Solitary Confinement Cells --

July 18, 2022

As part of a ten-city national tour, The End of Isolation Tour brings its immersive theatrical performance The BOX to Eastern State Penitentiary for two nights only: August 13 and 14, 2022.

The BOX is a piece of transformational theater that invites the audience to re-examine long-held notions of punishment and solitary confinement. It underscores both the horror of solitary confinement and the humanity of people subjected to it, employing stories inspired by true events to bring awareness to what is occurring in correctional institutions across the country.

The BOX is written and directed by Sarah Shourd, who was held in solitary confinement for over 400 days as a political prisoner in Iran. After discovering the prevalence of solitary confinement in the United States, she collaborated with other survivors and together, they have brought this project to life. Several members of the nine-person cast and crew are formerly incarcerated.

By turns entertaining and unsettling, The BOX offers a rare glimpse into the deep end of our prison system, the intimate bonds forged between survivors of brutality and isolation, the ripple effects of systematic torture, and the common core that makes us human.

“We're thrilled to host The BOX at Eastern State Penitentiary,” says Sean Kelley, Eastern State’s Senior Vice President, Director of Interpretation. “We are always looking for new ways to connect the history of American prisons to the reality of incarceration today. How do you make an empty prison a place of reflection? How do you evoke the real people who were once held here, many in years-long isolation? How do you give voice to people who are experiencing similar punishment today, at a far greater scale? This production does all those things, and it does it with the literal voices of people who have experienced the dehumanizing and destructive effects of solitary confinement.”

The play, which premiered in 2016 and played to sold-out audiences in San Francisco, Marin County, and Alcatraz Island, has been reconceived as a traveling show for the age of COVID. The forthcoming Philadelphia performance is presented by The Pulitzer Center in partnership with Abolitionist Law Center and Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site.

Performance Details:
August 13 and 14, 7:00 p.m.
Eastern State Penitentiary, 2027 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19130
Tickets are on sale now at
Eastern State members get 25% off.

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. The performance will begin promptly at 7:00 p.m. and will last for one hour and 30 minutes, followed by a 30-minute engagement circle. Seating assignments are first-come-first-served. The performance includes profanity, sexual language, and violent content that may not be appropriate for all ages.

For more information, the public can visit

Media Resources:

- Hi-res images and accompanying credits are available for download here.
- A video about The BOX is available here.

- Sarah Shourd is available for in-person media interviews August 12 through August 15, and for phone interviews prior. To arrange, please contact Seneca Beth Miller, [email protected], (480) 262-1309.
- Representatives from Eastern State Penitentiary are available for media interviews anytime. Please contact Nicole Frankhouser, [email protected], (215) 236-5111 x219.
- Representatives from Abolitionist Law Center are also available for interview. Please contact Valerie Kiebala, [email protected], (202) 582-9695.

Press Passes:
- A limited number of press tickets are available. Please contact Seneca Beth Miller, [email protected], (480) 262-1309.

About Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site:
Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site interprets the legacy of American criminal justice reform, from the nation’s founding through to the present day, within the long-abandoned cellblocks of the nation’s most historic prison.

Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world's first true "penitentiary," a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of prisoners. Its vaulted, sky-lit cells held approximately 80,000 men and women during its 142 years of operation, including bank robber "Slick Willie" Sutton and “Scarface” Al Capone.

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site is open for tours year-round. Admission includes “The Voices of Eastern State" Audio Tour, narrated by actor Steve Buscemi; award-winning exhibits; and a critically acclaimed series of artist installations.

In recent years, Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site has been awarded the prestigious Excellence in Exhibitions award by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the nation’s highest award in exhibition development and design, for its exhibit Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration, as well as the Institutional Award for Special Achievement from the Pennsylvania Federation of Museums and the Trustee Emeritus Award for Stewardship from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Returning Citizens Tour Guide Project, which hires people who were formerly incarcerated to lead tours of the historic site, has won the EdCom Award for Innovation in Museum Education by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) and has been featured internationally by such networks as the BBC and others.

For more information, visit

End of Isolation Tour Partners:
Presenting Sponsor: The Pulitzer Center
National Sponsor: Unlock The Box
Organizational Ally: Solitary Watch
Community Partner: Abolitionist Law Center


2017 American Aliance of Museums Excellence in Exhibitions Overall Winner