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Hope Rises and Hendrix Theatre Arts Collaborate to Share Experiences of Incarceration

CONWAY, Ark. (July 23, 2019) – Hope Rises and the Cynthia Cook Sandefur Odyssey Professorship at Hendrix College present the 2019 Hope Rises Theatre Project: Hurry Up and Wait, a performance piece based on the experiences of female inmates in the Arkansas Department of Corrections. Two performances will take place Sunday, Aug. 11, at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The performances will be held at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s Annex, a 125-seat black box theatre space at 518 Main Street in Little Rock. Tickets cost $25 and may be reserved through Eventbrite.

The Hope Rises Theatre Project aims to change the story of incarceration in Arkansas by changing who tells the stories about prisons: the inmates themselves. Telling these stories helps to enrich the lives of women at the Hope Rises re-entry facility through theatre arts, and provides a raw, honest account of life in prison.

Project facilitators use group discussion, individual interviews, voice work, and movement work to write a performance piece based on experiences that Hope Rises residents have had while imprisoned and during re-entry. Residents of Hope Rises will bring that performance piece to life — providing an opportunity for new understanding among those in the audience who have never experienced incarceration.

“Working with Hope Rises has been so meaningful,” said Ann Muse ’83, the Cynthia Cook Sandefur Odyssey Professor of Theatre Arts at Hendrix College. An experimental first year of collaboration with Hope Rises in 2017-2018 led Muse to apply for the Odyssey professorship, which she received in the spring of 2019. It provides funding for the Hope Rises Theatre Project, as well as the opportunity for three undergraduate theatre arts students — Danielle Carney ’21, Peter Grant ’21, and Ragan Price ’21 — to collaborate with Hope Rises, Muse, and Little Rock theatre artist Wayne Chapman in developing the work. 

“Having the support to share the work with my students and colleagues is a dream,” Muse said. “The ladies of Hope Rises are among the most courageous I have ever met.” Muse has begun a blog to chronicle the development of this year’s project.

“Of all the creative programs that have been a part of my work with the women of Hope Rises, this programming has had more impact and demonstrated more clear results than any other to date,” said Kim Roxburgh, executive director of Hope Rises.

About Hendrix College

A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit

About Hope Rises

Hope Rises provides holistic services to women impacted by addiction, trauma, or incarceration to improve their health and well-being and provide opportunities for personal growth and empowerment. The nonprofit organization provides the necessary tools and support to help women navigate the numerous barriers to re-entry. The Hope Rises Justice Involved Women’s Empowerment Model is an evidence-based re-entry approach, rooted in the most innovative research from the National Institute of Correction and the Department of Justice to reduce the recidivism rate among women.