Recently we have been looking into our collection on prison rebellions and we’d like to share with you what we have about the Lucasville 5. A highlight of our collection is “Big George: A Docudrama About the Lucasville Rebellion,” written by Staughton Lynd tracing the history, circumstances and aftermath of the 1993 rebellion. The docudrama uses recordings from the rebellion and other testimony, much of which was disallowed at the trials of George Skatzes, to inform the dialogue and narrative.
Following the 1993 Lucasville Prison Rebellion, five men were sentenced to death for the murder of 9 prisoners and a guard killed during the rebellion. The rebellion was a reaction to the atrocious and violent conditions of the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, OH. The prison takeover lasted 11 days after which Namir Abdul Mateen, Siddique Abdullah Hasan, Bomani Hando Shakur, George Skatzes and Jason Robb were targeted for their leadership roles. The Lucasville rebellion became famous for its inter-racial solidarity in a prison known for racial unease.
For me “Big George” is particularly striking for its unique form. Lynd’s docudrama is part legal testimony and part theater. Walking the line of theatrical entertainment and potent legal evidence, the docudrama innovatively disseminates truths and mobilizes the audience. For example “Big George” begins with a description of the set in which the stage is split between inside the prison and the prison yard. We are told the audience is to be seated in the prison yard while the dialogue, much of which is legal testimony, takes place. The audience then becomes both prisoner as well as jury. The documentary part of the play demands the audience take some responsibility for the Lucasville 5’s circumstances and the horrors of the prison system. At the same time the theatrical part of the docudrama implicates the performativity and absurdity of our justice system. This cross-genre piece is both historically as well as emotionally informative and demands accountability and ultimately a proactive movement from the audience to support Skatzes and the Lucasville 5 and to confront our carceral system.
Check out our entire collection here.