Theatre & Film Productions

DU PAI connects incarcerated cast, crew and production teams to the public through live performances and audience talkback sessions. Arts-based performances serve educational purposes for both participants and viewers, while encouraging new conversations about the role of art across communities.

Past Productions

Film Productions

These Walls

THESE WALLS is an original, short-film retrospective of Colorado's oldest prison, Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility. The film was devised, written, and performed by artists who were incarcerated there during the facility's 150th year. The film draws from historical accounts and contemporary personal narratives in order to investigate one man's search for humanity through an unexpected correspondence within the walls of a prison hewn from the canyon that became Cañon City. THESE WALLS asks audiences to consider the ways care and accountability can create healing and hope in our criminal justice system. THESE WALLS is produced and created by the DU Prison Arts Initiative in partnership with the Colorado Department of Corrections.

Directed by Clare Hammoor, Assistant Directed by Eric Davis 

Produced & Production Managed by Tess Neel

Filmed by Meili Smith


DU PAI Antigone


Antigone was originally set to be a theatre production and perform in 2020, however, due to COVID the project shifted to become a filmed production instead. This production was produced at Limon Correctional Facility and also took part in our A/LIVE Inside Virtual Showcase in Fall of 2020. The production was officially filmed in Fall of 2021, and was viewed by CDOC facilities and loved ones of the participants. This film is not available for public viewing. 

Directed by Julie Rada

Produced and Production Managed by Tess Neel

Filmed by Meili Smith

A/LIVE Inside Virtual Showcase

A/LIVE INSIDE is an unprecedented live virtual event inviting you into multiple facilities across Colorado. You’ll meet incarcerated artists and storytellers sharing their theatrical performance, song and dance, visual art and music, and panoramic true life stories. A/LIVE INSIDE encourages and embodies transformation and celebrates the boundless humanity and creativity of CDOC residents. The arts and storytelling showcase is followed by a one-of-a-kind roundtable discussion between incarcerated participants and leadership from DU PAI and CDOC.

Cinematography: MeiLi Smith + Stephen Anderson


IF LIGHT CLOSED ITS EYES is a verbatim documentary play, created from 100 interviews, exploring the criminal justice system and shared humanity. This production is performed, designed and produced by over 50 incarcerated artists, with the guidance of DU Prison Arts Initiative (DU PAI) faculty, in Sterling Correctional Facility (SCF) in the Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) and is the culmination of over two and a half years of work by the creative team.

The IF LIGHT CLOSED ITS EYES creative team conducted over 100 interviews with incarcerated people, CDOC staff, victims/survivors of harm, family members of incarcerated people and victims, district attorneys, lawyers, senators, politicians, educators, spiritual leaders and more to understand their experiences within the criminal justice system. The creative team spent countless more hours crafting, designing and producing this unprecedented verbatim play from those interviews. Along the way the team discovered the power of collecting and holding other people’s stories and how they connect us to our shared humanity and complex histories. IF LIGHT CLOSED ITS EYES is an exploration of the American criminal justice system in this moment in time as well as a vision of possibility for corrections in the future.

The filmed version of this production will premier in 2023

Executive Producer and Director: Ashley Hamilton
Director of Dance: Joanna Rotkin
Director of Photography: Drummond West
Producer and Production Manager: Tess Neel

I think a lot of people have the idea that prison is 'lock them up, throw away the key, they don't deserve anything.' So, when you start bringing the human conversation back . . . then those conversations start shifting.

DU PAI Incarcerated Participant
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