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Off the Hook 

The Poetic Justice Project—an organization “dedicated to the creation of original theatre that examines crime, punishment, and redemption”—is debuting a production called Off the Hook on Oct. 1 at 8 p.m., at Unity Church in SLO.

Off the Hook addresses violence and racial segregation in the prison system, concluding with what the Poetic Justice Project calls “the triumph of the human spirit.” Thus far, the production has played in Sacramento, Redding, Fresno, Bakersfield, Tehachapi, San Diego, and Los Angeles. The project is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the California State Arts Council, and the LEF Foundation.

Deborah Tobola, the project’s artistic director, was responsible for the writing, and Shawn Collins provided original music. The production stars Pius Savage, who also acted in Spirit of the Wind and White Fang. The majority of the 15-person cast is local, and all were formerly incarcerated.

An audience talkback will follow. Unity Church is located at 1490 Southwood Drive. Tickets cost $10 to $20 and can be bought at or by calling 1-800-838-3006. Off the Hook has a seven-production run between Oct. 1 and 10. For more information about the Poetic Justice Project, visit

Among the facts listed on the project’s website are: “California has added 21 state prisons in 30 years, with the prison population expanding from 23,000 to 170,000,” “California’s recidivism rate is 70 percent—twice the national average,” and “The cost per inmate per year is now $49,000.”

Donations to the Poetic Justice Project can be sent to Poetic Justice Project, PO Box 1796, Santa Maria, CA, 93456. ∆


—Ashley Schwellenbach

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