THEATRE: Mikey Henley’s 23:30, performance about solitary confinement, Wed-Sat, Nov 4-7

Mikey_Henley_23-30_poster2015Wednesday November 4 to Saturday November 7, 2015, four performances. Michael Henley‘s theatrical performance 23:30, “the stark truth about his time in solitary confinement”. At Artword Artbar, tickets $15, 905-543-8512 or 905-912-9083. Arrive by 8:00 pm to be seated and served. Show starts sharp at 8:30 (no latecomers admitted).
Mikey Henley was a troubled teenager. Eighteen years old in 1997, he was sentenced to two years in penitentiary for robbery and assault. Serving his time in Collins Bay, he refused to rat on another prisoner, and in consequence was sent to “the hole”, solitary confinement. Three hellish months in all, locked in a tiny room for 23 hours and 30 minutes a day.
On April 17, 1999, he received his conditional release. Outside, he had a life to start over — and a nightmare that he couldn’t forget.
He had a story to tell, but how to tell it? The result is 23:30, a powerful piece of dramatic art that depicts the stark truth about what happens in solitary confinement to a human spirit.
“23:30 is a story, a play, a musical, a comedy, a nightmare. It is a story of how to think outside the box. A story that asks what do you do when you hit rock bottom, but worse…find yourself in the hole. What would you do? Locked in the hole for an average of 23 and a half hours a day, for over 3 months. How would it affect you?” 
The performance is divided into three “chapters”. It starts with Mikey’s depiction of how he spent 23 hours and 30 minutes locked alone in a cell, one minute for each hour. “What would you do, locked in the hole?” It’s an intense experience, riding a thin edge between performance and remembered reality.

In Chapter Two, Mikey talks about what we have just seen. He goes over each minute, and explains why he chose the things he did and what they mean.

In Chapter Three, he asks the audience to join him in a dialogue about what happens inside prison walls. You will have a lot to think about.

Michael (Mikey) Henley lives and works in Niagara Falls. He is a personal trainer and fitness instructor in Niagara Falls. He is also a stand-up comedian, “The Eclectic Entertainer”, and has toured comedy clubs across Canada.

He tried out his unique concept for a reality-based performance in his studio before small audiences in spring 2015. They were deeply affected by what they saw. Tia Cormat, one of the audience members, had this to say about her experience: “A deeply moving narration about the power, and consequence, of choice – it confronts not only the issues he had as an inmate, but why. 23:30 is a true demonstration of the transformative power of theatre.”

Mikey started going through a list of theatres to see who would be interested in presenting 23:30. Artword Theatre (starts with A) was at the top of the list. Ronald Weihs and Judith Sandiford responded positively right away, because the issue of prison reform is very important to them.

Bigger and more expensive prisons are being built, while funds for proper management are being reduced. Lockdown and solitary confinement become easy ways to compensate for understaffing. Solitary confinement is being used to house people with emotional problems, and native and black prisoners are greatly over-represented.

In the US, Barak Obama has declared prison reform to be a priority, and has found allies across the political spectrum. In Canada, however, our Federal Government is following an outdated “tough on crime” scenario that has been discredited around the world.

Mikey’s personal testimony is a powerful way into the larger issues about prison reform that we face.

This entry was posted in Event, Special event, Storytelling, Theatre. Bookmark the permalink.