Dramatic Escape

The documentary that transports viewers into the lives of maximum security prisoners at Sing Sing in Ossining, NY, as they mount a stage production of A Few Good Men. From auditions through curtain call, the men reveal their personal stories, their everyday struggles and the importance of the arts in their journeys. Sing Sing is a maximum security prison on the Hudson River, 30 miles north of NYC.

AIRED: June 13, 2017 | 1:30:09

Man: Before I joined RTA,

I would be characterized as like a wolf,

a predatory animal in the prison system.

Preyed on the weak,

on anybody I could take advantage of.

And that's how I basically did my bid

because I had no one from the outside

to take care of me or send me anything

or nothing like that, so I took everything I needed.

God willing, I'll be leaving prison soon.

(marching feet)

Man: ♪ Mama, mama, can't you see

Men: ♪ Mama, mama, can't you see

Man: ♪ What this Corps has done to me? ♪

Men: ♪ What this Corps has done to me? ♪

Man: ♪ Mama, mama, can't you see

Men: ♪ Mama, mama, can't you see

Man: ♪ What this Corps has done to me? ♪

Men: ♪ What this Corps has done to me? ♪

Man: ♪ Traded all my hopes and dreams ♪

Men: ♪ I traded all my hopes and dreams ♪

Man: ♪ For ugly boots and nasty greens ♪

Men: ♪ For ugly boots and nasty greens ♪

Man: ♪ I traded all my hopes and dreams ♪

Men: ♪ I traded all my hopes and dreams ♪

Man: ♪ For ugly boots and nasty greens ♪

Men: ♪ For ugly boots and nasty greens ♪

Man: ♪ Mama, mama, can't you see

♪ Mama, mama, can't you see ♪

Man: ♪ What this Corps has done to me? ♪

♪ What this Corps has done to me? ♪

Man: ♪ I used to drive a Cadillac

Men: ♪ I used to drive a Cadillac

Man: ♪ With pretty women in the back ♪

Men: ♪ With pretty women in the back ♪

Man: ♪ I used to drive a Cadillac

Men: ♪ I used to drive a Cadillac

Man: ♪ With pretty women in the back ♪

Men: ♪ With pretty women in the back ♪

Man: ♪ I used to drive a Coupe de Ville ♪

Men: ♪ I used to drive a Coupe de Ville ♪

Man: ♪ But now I'm marching up a hill ♪

Man: ♪ But now I'm marching up a hill ♪

Man: ♪ Mama, I hope you're proud of me ♪

Men: ♪ Mama, I hope you're proud of me ♪

Man: ♪ I once was blind, but now I see ♪

Men: ♪ I once was blind, but now I see ♪

Man: ♪ Mama, mama, can't you see

Men: ♪ Mama, mama, can't you see

Man: ♪ What RTA has done for me? ♪

Men: ♪ What RTA has done for me? ♪

Man: ♪ Mama, mama, can't you see

Men: ♪ Mama, mama, can't you see

Man: ♪ What RTA has done for me? ♪

Men: ♪ What RTA has done for me? ♪

I think that the message that this play would give

not only the population but the message

to the outside world that--

that there are a few good men in here.

There's a few good men in here that's trying to be men.

I'm 46 years old, and for a long time,

I was a full-grown male, but I wasn't a man,

and I thought I was because I was living by codes and rules

and regulations that was given to me by the streets.

Man: Okay, so your choice is "A Few Good Men."

Clarence: Yeah, that's my choice, "A Few Good Men."

I think the play that would be most relevant here

at this time would be "12 Angry Men."

- That's your first choice? - Yeah.

- You need to ask me? - No, "A Few Good Men," right?

I think right now because of the leadership,

"A Few Good Men" represents how to, you know, stand up

against the norm and not going with the norm.

I choose "A Few Good Men."

Clarence: One of the reasons why I really chose

"A Few Good Men" over "Oedipus" is because I would like

to afford the members the chance to step into new clothing,

let them change and transform.

You don't understand the transformative power

of putting on a good suit after having on greens every day.

So we got four for "A Few Good Men."

I think we out-voted you.

As usual.


Let 'em know we have a play.

Man: When anybody sees a movie about prison

or comes to see somebody in prison,

the first question is what is he in for?

What did he do? How much time does he have?

You know, we're always taught the negative

about something in life

instead of thinking about, you know,

is there anything good about this person?

Is there anything good that we see that prison does?

Can anything come out of prison that is good?

There's a saying that we have in here

that I heard somebody say.

This place can be a womb, a tomb, or a cocoon.

A womb is a place that, you know, something--

is a place where something is being like,

you know, coming into existence, you know?

So you could, like, become reborn, in a sense.

So it's a womb. It can be a tomb.

A tomb is a place where you could bury the dead people.

A lot of brothers are still mentally dead.

You know, they're spiritually dead.

You know, they don't care.

A womb, a tomb, or a cocoon, again, the transformation.

You know, so it's up to you what you decide to do with it.

Johnny: The number-one code in prison--

you treat everybody with respect.

I don't ask people what they're incarcerated for.

October 5, 1995, I got arrested.

I was charged with robbery.

Crime of robbery brought me to prison.

(all humming marching tune)

- RTA! - Yes, sir!

Is you ready to perform?!

Yes, sir!

Clarence: When one first comes to Sing Sing,

you go through the state shower.

This where you get all your property categorized.

This is the accurate part of what's going on on TV

when you see it in the movies and all that.

You get your linen, your pillow, your mattress.

Once you get inside the cell location,

you're pretty much in population now.

Man: For the state of New York,

there's so many places that are notorious.

There's Attica, there's Clinton, there's Comstock,

Auburn, Coxsackie, so many places.

And when you walk in through these gates

or you walk into these cellblocks and you see

these guys, sometimes you gotta say,

"What am I gonna do, man, to survive in this process?"

The first night in prison, one gets in touch

with a higher being if you believe in it or not.

You pray.

My first night in this maximum-security prison,

I heard screaming and yelling, and my first night

going to my little housing location,

there was a trail of blood in the hallway,

and I'm wondering where did this blood come from?

Somebody had just got stabbed and they was carrying him

in a stretcher to the hospital,

and there was a trail of blood that no one cleaned up.

I'm in a movie theater one day,

guy next to me starts smoking a cigarette.

I can't stand cigarettes.

So I get up, and I move a few rows back.

Just as I get up and move, another guy comes in,

comes behind the guy that's smoking a cigarette

and rips his face open from the back with a razor.

A search that takes place coming off the visit floor

is the most humiliating thing a man can ever experience.

Take off your shirt, shake it out.

Take off your underwear one leg at a time.

Shake it out.

Take off one sock at a time. Shake it out.

Bend at-- turn around, bend at the waist,

pull your cheeks apart so I can look up your ass.

(scoffs) Makes you not even want to go on a visit.

Man: Ten, nine, eight, seven, six,

five, four, three, two, one.

Ten, nine, eight, seven, six,

five, four, three, two, one.

Nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one.

Right now what's going on today,

we're auditioning for "A Few Good Men."

We had an audition last Tuesday

and we were supposed to have another one Wednesday.

However the jail got locked down.

I don't really know, something about somebody

found some bullets or something in a hallway, I don't know.

I don't know anything. That's the legend.

I want you to threaten him, and then every time

you say "no code red," I want you to raise your volume.

- Man: Each time? - Each time.

So it starts out "no code red?" Then it goes, "no code red?!

Then "No code red!"

The government of the United States maintains

a mil-- military installation in the Arctic circle.

And you and the men of Charlie will find yourselves

scraping icicles off the igloos

if you so much as look at the private funny!

- Is that clear?! - Yes, sir!

- No code reds, is that clear? - Sir, yes, sir!

- No code reds! Is that clear?! - Sir, yes, sir!

- No code reds! Is that clear?! - Sir, yes, sir!

No code reds!! Is that clear?!

- Sir, yes, sir! - Dismissed!

Yeah, prison has its own code, own set of rules,

own set of standards.

If you got into a fight and no officers was around,

the code is like never tell the officers

that you got beat up.

So the Marines live by a standard.

Us prisoners, we live by a standard and code.

That is, if you break that code, you are looked at,

you are shunned for other prisoners.

You're looked at as a rat, a snitch,

and once you get those type of labels,

people look down at you.

"A Few Good Men," I seen the movie,

and when the guys said they chose this play,

I wanted to be involved.

I'm new to RTA, first time ever

looking at a script, reading for script.

I'm in the process to see am I the next Denzel Washington?

They asked me to partake--

You have to project. (laughs)

From the diaphragm.

From the diaphragm. Without the yelling.

No, projecting, there's a difference.

See how I've just raised my voice?

You can project without yelling.

All right, well, I'm a new member.

- There you go. - (laughs)

I'm a new member of the RTA,

and they asked me to partake in the auditions.

So I said why not? I'll give it a shot.

I've never done it before, so I'll try.


I did some speech classes but that's about it.

He's acting right now.

He's acting right now, and he's great at it.

I'm not gonna be in the production because

I don't think they ever seen a Marine with locks,

with dreadlocks, so I think I'm gonna do tech.

I'm gonna assist this guy with the lights

and I'm going to assist the sound man.

I wanted a part, but they said 6--

it's 6'6" and lower, so, yeah.

I didn't get a part.

6'10", 310.

- Well, in flats, yes. - In heels, it's different.

In heels, he's about 7'1".

Lorraine: I'm sure you're both pretty confused and frightened.

Ma'am, p-- permission to speak.

Go ahead.


Let's use some duct tape. We'll get some duct tape.

We'll-- we'll get a wrench later.

Man: Once I had arrived, the first play

that I saw him perform

was "Stories from Behind the Walls,"

or "Stories from the Inside," or something like that.

They would take guys out of the audience.

As a viewer, I would tell them a particular experience,

and they would act it out in improv.

It was kind of strange because it was so unconventional

and so completely not what you would expect from a prisoner.

Anything that moves outside the norm is a trigger.

It's a flag, whether that flag is for other prisoners

to see you or for the officers to see you

or the administration to see you.

You want to find

a pretty well-worn groove and get in it.

Is this is about as hot as it gets,

or am I actually trapped in hell?

The next play was "Oedipus Rex." And I came, and it was great.

It blew me out the water. And that's when I signed up.

And it was the idea that in the environments

that many of the people who come to prison

in New York State but America in general--

I mean, over 85% of the populations is black

and Hispanic, and in New York state prisons,

the overwhelming majority comes from these five

particular neighborhoods, the same five neighborhoods.

So it's easy to think that your fate

is already decided for you as it was in "Oedipus" that,

listen, before you were even born,

the Fates knew what you were going to do,

and no matter how hard or whatever means you go through

trying to avoid it,

he ended up fulfilling that anyway.

When I had a chance to meet the guy that played that later,

which was Clarence Maclin, I could tell from the way

he played it that he had a really good understanding

of the material.

Clarence: Coming to prison the first time

was a rite of passage, and I passed the test.

I was one of those small-time dudes.

I caught a small bid. I had a 1-to-3 first.

Wasn't convinced.

Went right out the same--

the same week I went out of prison,

I continued with the criminal line of thinking

because I wasn't nothing.

My son already been to prison already.

I didn't do anything to prevent it for him not to go.

In fact, I laid down a frame--

a frame of reference that led him to prison.

Damn be this birth.

Damn be this marriage!

Damn be this blood!

Let's do the usual. Let's go, shake out.

(all droning note)

All right, roll your shoulders back.

Get your head around.

Now get ready. Okay, that's it.

They're yours.

Lorraine: Here we go. Callbacks.

Reading for Dawson, and you know who he is.

We would like to see Ka and Jamal.

That's the most nervous one coming now

'cause he's the first guy to go.


Oh, I'm about to find out.

(speaking indistinctly)

Another Sam, that's Downey, and Dawson.

Okay. (speaks indistinctly)

Did you assault Santiago with the intent of killing him?

No, sir.

What was your intent?

To give Private Santiago a code red, sir.

- Why? - To train him, sir.

- Train him to do what? - Tr--

Train him to think of his unit before himself, sir.

Train him to expect to respect the code.

What was the code?

Unit, Corps, God, country, sir! That's our code!

I was just hoping that I got my--

my air under my voice.

Still got the little jitters because it's my first time,

but... I think-- I think I might have made

a little impression on them, huh? (laughs)

They'll slap you with a dishonorable discharge,

and that'll be stapled to every job application

you'll ever fill out.

Life's like that sometimes. Let's go.

Nicely done. Nicely done. Okay, thank you.

I enjoyed that.

I think Rodney could be sharpened up a little bit.

Yeah, they all need to be sharpened up.

That's the purpose of the rehearsal,

- but the essence is there. - Yeah, the essence is there.

Clarence: The change that took place in me

because of RTA was... pretty gradual.

I had respect for Dino Johnson and maybe Mark Wallace

and maybe one or two other guys, but the rest of these guys,

to me, they were soft.

They was cupcakes to me.

So I didn't really respect them

until I got to come around more and more.

I started coming around more and I started getting to know

the volunteers and I started seeing

the volunteers start treating us like human and, you know,

it was a trust that was given to me.

(indistinct chatter)

Woman: Shake that thing!


Say you're gonna lead with your hips.

If you put your feet together, you could be effeminate.

You could be gay, see what I mean?

Like this, but now if you bring your legs apart,

you become a cowboy.

First of all, put your hips forward.

Put your feet together and be gay.


(hooting and chattering)

See if you can-- no, guys,

walk and see if you can feel the different rhythm.

You see what I mean?

It works, right?

If you lead with your hips with your legs close together.

(all chattering)

All right, now, make your legs-- spread your legs out.

Start to see how you feel like a cowboy.

Okay? Now that's a tough guy, right?

When you're doing a character, you have a lot of tools.

One of the most famous actors of all time

was Laurence Olivier.

He always had a nose made.

He had a different nose for each character

so it was like a mask.

You don't want to show any kind of weaknesses in prison.

Crying is a weakness.

Empathy can be looked at as a weakness.

(Dominican accent)

Samuel: A lot of prisoners acting all day.

We call it face fighting.

You don't wanna and you're not gonna take

any shit from anybody.

You put on personas or you put on these masks,

and your behavior becomes indicative to your environment.

It put me in a box and got me key-blocked,

but I was willing to endure them things

for people to understand don't mess with this individual,

then when I go in my cell at nighttime,

I can take off the mask.

Clarence: People saw me as a wolf, so I was a wolf,

but then when the people in the RTA saw me as different,

something else, something more, a man,

I had to be a man.

Woman: With a cast of 24, it's been very complicated

and I ask that you all understand that,

that it's like a giant puzzle.

We're creating a life-size puzzle

with all of you as a perfect piece.

Dawson? Yes, I am.

I'm gonna be very good with that part.

- What'd you think, Minister? - I'm happy, I'm ready.

I'm actually researching assistant director.

So I'm big time. I'm big time.

I was looking forward to playing Dr. Wallace Stone.

So now I gotta put the work in.

He's like a spy, so, you know,

he has to play a double role, so that's a challenge.

I have to show two diff--

I have to show another side of myself.

Even though I'm playing Markinson,

Markinson plays someone else, so.

This is a major role the first time around.

I don't-- I know I'm gonna do good.

The-- the older guys are gonna help me out.

So I'm happy.

Like I was telling him-- yeah, right?

I am, I'm really happy. I really wanted it.

It's a chance to-- I mean, bad guys,

everybody wants to play a bad guy.

And he's like a really good bad guy

'cause he's not bad, you know what I mean?

He's not evil. Well, he's just normal.

Everybody's just people. So I think it's good.

It's a pretty well-written role.

I hope I can do it justice, right?

Thanks, Jack, appreciate it. You know what I'm saying?

Gonna be comparing me to Jack Nicholson.

"You know, he's not as good as Jack."

Yeah, well, are you?

Well, the one thing I would like to say about RTA,

man, is that you're gonna be on this ride with us

for a minute now.

You're gonna see there's a such thing

that we call the-- the process.

No one can really define what the process is.

It just is, and you're gonna see it,

and you're gonna know that it's taking place.

You're gonna see when it happens.

You're gonna go through the ups and downs.

It's gonna look like it's all gonna fall apart.

It's gonna look like no one has their lines down,

no one knows their blocking,

but when the curtain comes up, it's gonna be magic.


Man: Y'all already?

♪ Everywhere we go

Men: ♪ Everywhere we go

Man: ♪ People want to know

Men: ♪ People want to know

Man: ♪ What we chant about

Men: ♪ What we chant about

♪ So we tell them so

♪ So we tell them so

(all hum tune)

I, Lance Corporal Harold W. Dawson,

have been informed by special agent RC Maguire

of the Naval Investigative Service

that I am suspected of conspiracy to commit murder--

murder and conduct unbecoming of a United States Marine

in the matter of Private William T. Santiago.

I have also been advised that I have

the right to remain silent and make no statement at all.

I don't have a lot of long monologues.

Mine is always like I'm talking to somebody.

So it's short.

- 32. - 33.

- 34. - 35.

- 36. - 37.

- 38. - 39.

- 40. - 41.

- 42. - 43.

(all groan)

On this level for the second act,

we have the table for the defense,

the table for the prosecution.

We have the judge's stand way up here,

and we have the witness stand.

What you can see in the back is Jessep's office,

which gets struck.

Supposed to have your lines memorized.

If you would like to try it off book--

which is what I encourage here in act one--

and you lose a line, don't throw it away, and say,

"Oh, shoot, I lost it."

Just say "line."

This is a cautionary statement that in the near future,

you have to be completely off book

with no scripts on the set.

Let's do the best we can today, okay?

Let's run it. Let's see what we have.

Finish at the top of the act, please.

I, Lance Corporal Harold W. Dawson--

I have read this two-page statement prepared for me

by special agent McGuire at my-- line.

Am I also right in assuming that--


And Thursday at 0600--


On the 18th, we were out,

I am falling-- line.

Please help me.


Lorraine: You're a strong man

but just your body is failing you.

Let's try it again. You are obviously disturbed.

You are obviously frustrated. You want to tell your story.

Sometimes it's best to let the audience feel the emotion.

So when it comes to-- is pushing you down the hill,

- you can be angry. - Yeah, okay.

But don't whine.

(strong accent) "I was put in remedial physical training

and punish by filling sandbags every day

after I stand my post!

I ask you to help me.

Please, sir,

I just need to be transferred out RNC.

Okay. All right. Much, much better.

- Just in terms of syllable emphasis... - Yes.

rather than sand bags, it's sand bags.


My first role in RTA,

I played a dancer and, you know,

a gang member remember in "West Side Story."

You know, at that time, you know,

I was a gang leader, you know?

It was easy for me to play that role, you know,

because this is the life, you know, that I was living.

Producer: When you say you're a gang member,

what you mean by being a gang member?

Well, I was a leader, you know,

the Trinitario, Dominican gang, you know?

And w-- when I-- when I joined RTA, you know,

I started changing my life little by little, you know?

So and then I started talking pos--

how you say, "possiry"?

- No, "posity," you know? - Positivity.

Yeah, positivity to my people.

So they started talking, you know,

that I was getting crazy because it wasn't me, you know?

And they starting, you know, like--

like putting me on the side because I was--

I wasn't the same at all.

Ka: I got into a fight with three individuals one night.

One of them took my chain. Gold chain I was wearing.

Got into a fight.

They went back to their housing projects.

Me and another individual went back

to their part housing projects looking for them.

One thing led for another, we backed our guns

and started chasing them through the project hallways.

The individual that I was with caught somebody,

he shot them in the stairwell.

I didn't learn until the following day who he had shot.

The person that he had shot was not one of

the three individuals who had jumped and robbed me.

The person he had shot was a friend of mine

that I went to school with.

So from the very beginning, I always felt remorse.

I always felt messed up behind what happened.

We have to be honest about everything that this is.

You know what I'm saying, it is about the people

who've been victimized by us.

We're not innocent. We're not innocent.

You know, we've wronged people.

And that has to be acknowledged.

That can never-- that can never be forgotten.

I got locked up for the case.

I refused to give up the actual shooter

because me being from the streets,

it's like you have a certain lifestyle,

and whatever happens while you in this lifestyle,

you have to hold that down.

You're not supposed to snitch.

As far as how RTA helped me deal with that,

for a long time, I always put it off on the other individuals.

That's their fault. They shouldn't have touched me.

They brought that on themself.

Their man is dead? They caused it.

They should not have touched me.

But at the end of the day from what I've learned,

in, like, maturing, I wear that.

That's my fault.

Prior to coming to Great Meadow,

I had just did a year in the box, South Port.

I was given 16 months for something

that happened in Clinton correctional facility.

I did a year in solitary confinement.

I came out. They sent me to Comstock.

I was in Comstock for a couple of years.

So I transferred down to Sing Sing.

Man: ♪ Lift your head and lift it high ♪

Men: ♪ Lift your head and lift it high ♪

Man: ♪ Delta company's passing by ♪

Men: ♪ Delta company's passing by ♪

Man: ♪ I don't know what I've been told ♪

♪ I don't know what I've been told ♪

Man: ♪ All Marines are mighty bold

Men: ♪ All Marines are mighty bold

Man: ♪ Left, sound off

Men: ♪ One, two

Man: ♪ Sound off

Men: ♪ Three, four

Man: ♪ Sound off

Men: ♪ One, two, three, four

Man: One, two! Three, four!

Katherine: We'll have lights momentarily.

Let's run this again, please.

Sam, have you ever heard the story

of the lieutenant commander and the lieutenant colonel?

I believe I have.

It's a story of courage and conviction, is it not?

Right you are, Sam.

The lieutenant commander was investigating a crime,

and there was a question she wanted the colonel to answer.

This colonel is a very intimidating character,

- I've heard. - Well, sure, to some people.

To some people, he's the stuff of which nightmares are made.

Surely Lieutenant Kaffee doesn't need the colonel

to verify-- to conform--

Katherine: You know what's great about this stage of rehearsal,

you can use your scripts.

We're gonna do it for the staging of it,

and we'll see what comes out emotionally

and in every other way.

I draw the court's attention to the fact that on--

between 0600 on Thursday the 7th

and 0200 on Friday the 8th,

no passenger-capable flights left the base.

- Noted. - Noted.

Colonel, at this time, I'd like to tell you

that if you'd like a short recess to compose your thoughts

or if you'd like to consult with an attorney, we can arr--

- I don't need an attorney. - Yes, sir.

Man: Colonel, I think perhaps.

I said I don't need an attorney.

Man: Yes, sir.

Colonel a moment ago, you said that

Willie Santiago's death saved lives.

That's right.

I wonder then if you could tell us, sir,

are the defendants criminals or heroes?

I don't suppose that's for me to say.

I'm asking your opinion, sir, as a military expert,

criminals or heroes?

They're warriors.

Criminals or heroes, sir?

They're heroes.

Katherine: What do you think your attitude is about this?

I'm not gonna sit here in their face

and say that they're-- that they're criminals.

I'm not gonna do it.

That's a very noble statement, what you just said.

- And that's Kenyatta. - No, that's Jessep.

- I just want-- - Kenyatta thinks Jessep's a lunatic.

I'm certainly concerned about my NSA seat.

That's nice, that's fine.

They did what good Marines should do.

They did what I would like to think I would do

if I was a good Marine,

and that is you take it for the Corps.

I will equivocate as much as I can.

They're warriors or whatever,

but if it comes down to criminal or hero,

and those are the only options I'm not-- not for my career,

not for the sake of this court, not for the sake of anybody else

am I gonna call them criminals because they're not criminals.

They're Marines, and Marines and heroes.

That's what Marines are.

Katherine: Okay, let's move on.

First time ever being arrested,

I was convicted of being an accomplice

for a homicide that went bad from a robbery,

and in New York state, they call it felony murder.

I had seven codefendants.

The individual in my case that committed the crime,

he confessed to it.

I've been intimidated in so many physical ways

and psychological ways that at 18 years old,

I didn't know what to do, and when I asked the detective

that what would my attorney say if he was here,

he said, "Your attorney would say the same thing.

Memorize this story and you'll go home."

(indistinct conversations)

Javier: Dear Senator,

my name is PFC William T. Santiago.

I am a Marine stationed at Marine barracks,

Windward, Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

I am writing to inform you of my problems

and to ask for your help.

Wednesday, May 18th, we were out on a PT run.

I'd fallen out on runs before for several reasons,

such as feeling dizzy or nauseated,

and on the 18th, we were running,

and I had fallen back about 20 or 30 feet

going down a rocky, unstable hill.

My sergeant deliberately grabbed me

and pushed me down the hill.

Then I saw all black,

and the last thing I remember is hitting the deck.

I was brought to the hospital where I was told

I just had heat exhaustion

and was explained to by the doctor

that my body had trouble with the hot sun.

Let me hear it from "fallen back."

Take it from "fallen back."


We were running, and I'd fallen back about 20--

- Fallen? - Yeah, fallen.

Did you ask her what you was thinking about yesterday

between "falling" and "fell"?

And fell. I didn't ask her for that.

Okay, so take it from there from "fallen back."

On the 18th, we were running,

and I'd fallen back about 20 or 30 feet

going down a rocky, unstable hill.

- What-- what hill? - Unstable hill.

- (annunciating) Unstable. - Unstable.

Unstable hill, right. Go ahead.

My sergeant deliberately grabbed me

and pushed me down the hill.

Then I saw all black,

and the last thing I remember is hitting the deck.

I was brought to the hospital,

where I was told I just had heat "exshaushion."

- What? - "Exshaushion."

- Exhaustion. - Yeah, I had--

He's always had trouble with that.

- Big problems with that. - But he's good, go ahead.

- Yeah. - Heat what? Go ahead.

- Heat exhaustion. - Okay.

And was explained to by the doctor

that my body had trouble with the hot sun

and I hyperventilate.

I was put in remedial physical training

and punished by filling sandbags every day.

- Sand what? - Sandbags.

Sandbags, make sure you get the "G" there.

- Sandbags. - Sounds like "sand baas."

(annunciating) Sandbags.


(pronounces hard "G") Sandbags.

You can get the "G." I know you can do it.

You did it before. You are bilingual.

And you have a Spanish accent, so, you know, that's natural.

That's not a weakness. That's not a flaw, you know?

It's just knowing who you are and how you started

this program, you've come a long way.

So if you would've seen him when he started this program,

he couldn't really speak English.

He about 60 looking like he 20.


Three weeks.

- You getting ready? - You looking forward to that?

Yes, with a relish. I relish that.

Looking forward to it with relish.

What's the first thing you're gonna do when you get out?

Take a bath. (laughs)

17 years of taking showers, man.

I need a bath, man. (laughs)

Yeah, bubble bath,

everything, man, body wash, soft sponge.

You're never too old for a bubble bath.

Never, never, never. Packing up, man.

It's time to go.

I spent a lot of time in this yard.

Came here in 1996 when this was really prison.

This was really prison when I came here.

Not anymore. It's trash.

It's getting worse every day. It's a good time to leave.

Play's coming along well, man.

I see a lot of guys that're surprising me

with some of the things they do, some of the choices they make.

And I see guys that was involved with the program

for a little while and I see the growth

and development in them.

I see them growing as actors, as-- as men.

I see a lot of things taking place.

I'm glad to say-- I'm proud to say

I think I'm leaving this program in well--

in good hands.

(English accent) Yes, at the repertory theater in--

- (normal voice) No. - (laughter)

Yesterday we did a scene where Ka and I--

Ka plays Dawson.

Dawson's such like a rough character,

and it kind of fits Ka, his persona of like--

you know. (grunts)

I'm really upset at him because I feel like

he's hiding something from me that's, you know,

fundamental to the case.

I just came back from Cuba. I spoke to Colonel Jessep.

Colonel Jessep comes out and says

that they murdered Santiago, you know, cold blood.

They wanted to kill him.

So I come and I see Ka, and this is a cool scene

because I'm like, yeah, you know,

why did you care that Santiago was writing a letter?

You know, I want to know why you took it in your head

to assault this guy.

And Ka's dancing around,

and then I'm offering him a plea.

So it gets really heated, and, you know,

most of the time, you get up there,

and... you can do the emotion.

You can act like you're doing it.

But then sometimes like the real emotion comes out.

So like yesterday, that real emotion came out,

and it came out for him, and it came out for me,

and it's like sparks are flying between the two of us.

And you're touching places that you don't ordinarily

get to touch, like, I don't get to show that--

that kind of righteous indignation to anyone in here.

You know, I might start a fight.

He began to improvise, I didn't know

what he was doing, and he told me to "sit the eff down."

I knew that that wasn't in the play.

But there on the stage, because we have a trust

between us that we've developed, luckily--

(both laugh)

because he could probably smash me to pieces.

So I turn to him, I say,

"Who the eff are you talking to?"

You know, in front of Katherine, in front of the director.

And I'm started-- and I'm ready to--

It's just so liberating letting those--

letting those parts of me out

and having it bounce back off of him.

And I was heated. I went back to 7.

I'm just walking laps, and I'm just-- (sighs)

You know, I can't believe, you know.

And then I went to somebody, a mentor,

the assistant director, and I was like,

"Yo, could you believe that?"

He said, "Yo, I think you're bugging out, man."

He was like, "He was improvising."

I went to Hakim, and he said, "No, from what I heard,

you-- you lost it, man.

Like, he ain't do nothing wrong."

I'm trying to explain myself, and that night, I was like,

yo, man, that's the same thing that cost me my freedom,

my inability to deal with a situation using,

you know, reasoning, you know, acting on my emotions.

And I felt so embarrassed

by how I dealt with that situation.

It was like a lot of emotional barriers were, like,

being released, and Linda had said something

to us earlier about a play being an emotional symphony.

I really understood what she was saying,

but it doesn't always come out, and yesterday,

it was a really beautiful symphony.

Every-- all the characters were--

for the first time in a rehearsal,

they were really nailing the emotional content

in between the lines, you know,

so it wasn't like we were reading the play.

It was like we were living the play.

It felt so real that I really felt like

he was disrespecting me in a room full of people.

It became very powerful onstage.

You know, when you're shaking of your--

without your own volition from the emotion,

and you're like, wow, this is really

what I'm trying to say here, it's just--

that kind of release... is, uh...

it's invaluable.

We were able to squash it, and he was able to forgive me,

but again, I caught a reflection.

You still got it in you.


Son, is it me,

or are we going around in circles here?

I have a copy of the transfer order here.

It says that Santiago was scheduled

to be transferred out at 0200 the next morning.

Johnny: Whether we're in the yard working out,

whether we're in school or learning the blocks,

we say, "Listen you want to run lines?"

We'll run lines. It maintains our sanity.

You know, in a place like this,

it's easy for a person to lose it, to go insane.

I actually got down on my knees,

and I prayed to God to basically, you know,

end my life.

I wanted to just give up because I couldn't take

this life in prison no more.

I said to God, why couldn't you allow me

to be in prison for something that I did?

You know, I think it would've been easier for me.

It would've been much easier for me to deal

with this time 'cause I would've just ate everything up.


I would've...

just held it down, like they say in prison.

You commit a crime, you must pay for it.

But when you're in prison for something you didn't do

and every day goes by and then it leads up to 15,

18, 20, now 22 years, like I have been,

it's a long time.

An interesting thing about life

is that you can't appreciate it until you've lived it, right?

Well, clearly I wouldn't be who I am now

if I had taken a different path

because what I've done and what has happened to me

is what has made me who I am.

It's an interesting question

as to whether or not being who I am now

is worth what I've done.

I think somebody sure as hell better start

addressing these questions so folks will start listening.

Why is it impossible?

Because you can't handle it, son.

In honesty,

for the sake of this relationship,

not just mine and yours but my relationship with myself...

I am content with who I am

and with my circumstance and who I am.

And, um...

there's this interesting dichotomy,

this interesting--

I wish that I had not killed him.

It's ha-- you know, it's hard for me to say his name.

I'm gonna say his name.

Take it as you find it and make your decision,

but Moses Aliu Shaibu,

I wish that I had not killed him.


I am glad--

I am glad that I am the man I am.

I don't know how that works out.

Well, that's what I get for asking questions

without knowing the answers.

There is a difficulty that comes with examining

those other, deeper motivations,

the deeper state of mind, and I have to acknowledge

that that difficulty comes from a certain fear

and what it would say about who I was and whether--

and how much of who I was still exists in who I am,

and that's such a difficult thing to confront.

Colonel Jessep, do you understand these rights

as I have read them to you?

Let me tell you something, my friend.

These people have no idea how to defend a nation.

I'm trying to defend a nation!

All you did here today is weaken the country.

That's all you did. So pat yourself on the back.

You put people's lives in danger.

- Sweet dreams, son. - Don't call me son.

I'm a lawyer and an officer of the United States Navy,

and you're under arrest, you son of a bitch.

The witness is excused.

Man: ♪ Lift your head and lift high ♪

Men: ♪ Lift your head and lift high ♪

Man: ♪ Corporal Dawson's passing by ♪

Men: ♪ Corporal Dawson's passing by ♪

- Left, right. - One, two.

- Sing it out loud. - Three, four.

Yeah, that's like the worst one.

♪ Keep going

- ♪ Keep going, fall apart - (laughter)

♪ To pieces

♪ Go backwards Yeah!

Man: All right, that was perfect.

- I'm appalled. - You're appalled?

- Yes, sir. - That's strong language, Matthew.

Calm down before you work yourself into a lather.

Santiago breaks the chain of command,

tells tales to an outside organization.

Damn it. God! start over.

You can appeal. You can, at the end, beg.

You know, you can dramatize a little bit the sandbags.

Yeah, that's he-- I want to do it

- the way that you told me to. - Okay, that's fine.

And then if you see something that can be changed,

- you let me know. - Sounds good.

Kenyatta: See, the thing is that being in prison,

everything that exists out there--

out there, whatever that means-- exists in here.

The idea that people say, "Oh, when I get back to the world,

when I get back to society," you're in the world, my man.

You're in society.

The whole thing's wrapped up all together.

Ka: Some of my friends, they were up north,

and some of them haven't changed.

One of the reason's because up north,

you don't have a lot of programs like this available.

You don't have college programs available.

So they have no alternative.

It's just the yard, which is just like the streets.

You get high on the streets out there,

you get high in the yard.

You get into gunfights in the streets,

you get into knife fights in the yard, you know?

They have no incentive.

So this to me is a more bittersweet

and more poignant view than the view of the river

because the river's beautiful, and it's nice,

but that looks like life like I remember it.

I mean, look, you can actually see a street,

you know what I mean?

Like you were to go walking down the street.

And there's a house right there.

There's projects, maybe. It's not the projects.

They got balconies. That's just regular people.

You know what I mean?

There's a telephone pole.

(speaking indistinctly)

Men: ♪ Left, left

♪ Left, right, left

- (men shouting indistinctly) ♪ Left, left

♪ Laugh, right, left

♪ Left, left

Normally, the week before tech week

is a pretty hysterical week in a normal theater situation

'cause you've got sound coming in,

you've got the set coming in, you've got the lights coming in,

you got people hanging and focusing lights,

you got all these physical aspects

of the theatrical production coming in.

And then you have costumes.

Imagine if you can what that's like

in a prison where everything is contraband.

So to bring in even--

I've been trying for three days to bring in masking tape.

To bring in that roll of masking tape,

there is so much paperwork.

I am on my third day of trying to bring in masking tape.

The other day we were in a scene and Robbie, who plays Kaffee,

was in the scene with me and he like smiled

at an inopportune time and I really just wanted

to punch him in the face.

This anger was like, "What you laughing at?!"

And that was a little bit disturbing

because I've never really had that type

of character bleed-over before, so I don't know.

Maybe I'm becoming a better artist or whatever,

but that's a little bit--

that's been bothering me a little bit.

Katherine: Carpenters,

the word is that they will appear today.

Does anyone have confirmation?

(indistinct conversation)

Carpenters are here. There goes the set.

Starting tomorrow, remember, we are completely off book.

No coaching of lines. Try and smooth it out.

Try and stay in the moment.

Try and stay in character and know the moment will pass.

We have to let go of the idea

that it is-- that once an individual

has violated whatever our code as a society is,

that they are worthless and they should suffer

for the rest of their life, but at the same time

that an individual should be punished

when they commit certain acts.

The purpose of punishment is correction,

and if we don't correct the behavior,

then it says something about us.

It's as though there's a bank account,

and there's a balance,

and your suffering somehow makes my balance greater.

Katherine: And then "don't call me son."

Wait a second. Wait a second.

Kenyatta: The tools that I've been given

and the knowledge that I've been given

and the insight that I've been given,

these are not things that I've necessarily earned,

these are things that other people looked at me

and decided you know what, you are worth saving.

You are worth investing in, and we are gonna give you

these tools and show you how to use them.

Ten, ten. Ten more days, baby.

Ten more to go.

How many days I've been in? Days? Oh, man.

Almost 18 years.

That's an awful lot of days, minutes, hours, and seconds.

Finally walking out of here, man.

I got a lot of apprehension about leaving prison.

I've been in-- like I said, I've been in prison

for an awfully long time, and I know the world has changed

especially where I come from

and a lot of the people that I know

and the relationships that I had.

I'm really not interested in reviving those relationships

because they were not-- those relationships

were not really conducive to my growth and development.

During those years, my role models became the guys

that were in the street, the guys that was hustling,

the guys that was sticking up, the guys that was getting money,

the guys that had the flashy cars and a lot of girls.

Those were my role models.

I wasn't really good at hustling.

I'm not good at selling drugs. I don't have the patience.

I never did, so I gravitated more towards the stickup kids.

Still trying to hang onto a code of morals and ethics

because the guys that I come up under

would never rob, like, people that work ever.

Never-- we would never rob someone that goes

to work every day and work for their money.

That's not what we were doing. We robbed drug dealers.

That was my thing.

I committed a crime. I got 25 to life.

I have to see a parole board.

They could hit me or they could let me go.

A lot of times, you know,

they hit guys for the nature of the crime.

You know, and they just keep hitting guys.

In my world, I changed when I grew into who I really am

through RTA, through college,

through the people that mentored me,

they are individuals who mentored me,

and I stand on their shoulders, and I'm representing them, too.

I think everybody needs something to--

you know, to help them in life.

You know, that's what religion is for.

I'm not a religious person, so that's not it for me.

I study it, but that's not really it for me.

For me, I have RTA.

Like when you are studying in this program, you know,

you don't know what is the purpose

of this program, you know?

Only the faith that you think, oh,

I want to be an actor, you know,

but then something started changing your life.

I'm having an experience now with doing these productions

that some people in the free world can't experience.

I'm learning things, like--

in the free world, you're busy.

You're doing things, so in here,

you have nothing but time to think and get things right.

And that's what I'm trying to do.

Kenyatta: A lot of us coming from areas where--

or circumstances where there aren't fathers

or other strong men in role-model positions.

It's easy to fall into the gang mentality

because it's a surrogate family,

and then that loyalty to the family says

that we're gonna have a certain code,

we're gonna have a certain agreement.

This is not a gang. This is family.

This is an organization to help each other, you know?

Here's the rules. The rule, you look beautiful.

You say, oh, yeah. They got discipline, you know?

No violence, but when you realize,

when you open your eyes, it's almost too late.

In a way, the only way to get out of here better

is to discipline yourself as if you had a drill sergeant.

You remember the old cartoon, you have an angel

on the right side, devil on the left side?

Well, I believe that there's a self-accusing spirit,

a conscience that we all have.

It accuses you when you begin to do something wrong.

Do you ever lay down at night reflecting back on your life

and all the foul stuff you did hearing voices in your head,

like, "Brother, you ain't shh."

That's the sound of your self-accusing spirit.

It's a beautiful sound if you can hear it.

Like, our mothers, our wives tell us,

"Don't go out there with them boys."

Our grandmothers used to say,

"I don't want you hanging out with that boy

That boy's no good."

Or our wives may say, "Don't go out today."

They had a certain consciousness and in tune with something,

and we tended never to listen to our self-accusing spirit.

Listen to it, eventually you'll stop

exorcising those evil spirits.

Understand that underneath the façade of that

"I don't give a fuck" attitude, there is a beautiful,

powerful presence always present inside you.

You don't have a clue, do you?

But trust me, I do because I see myself in you.

I see myself in you.

You look good. You're standing very good.

Look at that chin held high. Wow.

Captain's in the house. Captain's in the house.

Producer: How many more days?

Two days and a wake up, babe.

Producer: Two days and a wake up?

Man: They got it done? They got it through?

Producer: I heard there might have been some problems.

Yeah, there was some problems on the part of parole's.

Their paperwork, they were slow with their paperwork.

I mean, My job is to do time.

I did the time. Your job is to do paperwork.

How you mess up the paperwork?

Man, I was frustrated. Man, I was-- you don't know.

After all this time, you wait to the last minute

and mess the paperwork

and say that I may have to stay in prison 40 more days.

But that's not-- that's not the hurting part.

The hurting part is when you act like 40 days is nothing.

Like, "Oh, you can do 40 days. You just did 18 years.

40 days is nothing."

Let me see you do seven days in a cell next to me,

and I'll do the 40 days.

I don't think they could survive seven days.

Well, yesterday, they got it straightened out.

That's the word I just got, that it's all straightened out

and everything's a go, so we'll see.

Then it gets checked back in again tonight

and goes out of the facility.

Will it get checked in again when we come back?

So it's gonna be in and out every five days.

...and it comes back in, it gets processed again.

- We're not taking it. - Right, but--

You're gonna put it in.

From what he just explained to me, it'll be sitting outside.

So in the event that it's sitting outside,

- technically, it's unsecure. - Even though it's on your property.

Even though it's on our property.

Anything could happen. Somebody could get in there.

No, we've done this for 15 years.

So I don't question it, I just--

there's just so much now to do that I'm wondering

if there's any shortcut to avoid all of this every time.


Yes, thank you.

This is 24 ribbons on this one-- two sergeant at arms guns.

We have to count and make sure everything is there.

So this is pretty much--

seems like an easy job, but it's pretty much a,

you know, hard job.

The easy part is folding them. (laughs)

(military drum playing march, indistinct conversations)

(shouts indistinctly)

Yo, Marcel, I need my boots shined, man.

Notice how, like, once you keep laying it on there

and you do it like that, see how it change?

Says something about a man who polishes his boots, huh?

Just got to dig in a little deeper.

As a sergeant at arms,

I want to make a good impression.

I'm wondering whether or not you retained

that level of animosity.

Hatred. Hatred's a good word.

I've decided that I hate him completely.

I don't get irritated with Robbie.

(both laugh)

The day I told you about the whole--

punch him right now.

I thought you might have punched me.

No, I wouldn't punch you that day. You know why?

Because I felt like I was winning.

You frighten the bejesus out of me, by the way, Jessep.

Jessep. Yeah, he's a scary guy.

There's very sensitive material here.

You already know what the play is

and all this, that, and other.

Gets into the wrong hands, this whole jail has a problem.

So if something comes up missing,

you and you and your buddy, they trust you.

I have to in turn do the same thing.

Linda: Have you had on the costumes yet?

- Just for the fit. - Okay, and how did yours fit?

Like a glove. Like a glove.

Maybe a little too tight, but it's the military.

Kenyatta: No, I can't-- I can't pass the buck.

Ka: You'd love to pass the buck to Stone.

But the truth is that this was totally your responsibility.

Listen, "A," I never pass the buck

because when Stone makes a mistake, I make a mistake.

The thing that you don't seem to understand

is that every single Marine beneath me,

when they make a mistake, I make a mistake.

You see what I'm saying?

That's the point of this entire exercise.

What do we do with our mistakes? We sweep them under the rug?

- Pretend like they-- - What rug?

We don't have rugs where I live, man.

- Don't you get it? - You hear, Kenyatta?

Linda: He's on a roll.

That's not Kenyatta over there. That's Jessep over there.

That's not Kenyatta speaking.

He needs a serious debriefing when we're done with this.

Any agents in the audience?

Agents have come. That has actually happened.

What? So they looking for talent, too, huh

anywhere they can find it?

It's happened. One guy was here.

And then he got a part on "Law & Order."

Unfortunately, then he really messed up

- and went back to jail. - I heard, I heard.

So that wasn't so good.


He was funny.

He had said the only thing that was as thrilling to him

as stick-ups was acting.

What? He get the rush?

He got the rush from acting that he got from doing stick-ups.


I think he should've sticked more to acting.

Unfortunately, he went back to stick-ups.

Oh, wow. It's sad.

I heard he was pretty good, too.

He was good. He was on "Law & Order."

And he was on something else too, but I can't remember.

Katherine: Well, that morning went completely

without getting anything productive really done.

- Well, we did a line reading. - You did.

Yes, of half the play, you got the costumes in,

which is like a major achievement.

You're not gonna get off exactly at 2:00 is my guess.

You might off at 2:15.

Okay, I can live with 2:15

as long as they're on the out-count.

- They'll be here all day. - Yeah.

But they're gonna change security in the middle of that.

These guys only work till 3:00, and then there'll be

new security people who will come in after that.

So they might get trapped here is the question.

Or the answer.

(singing indistinctly)

Overcooked. It's extremely soft.

It's called "yuck-isobe." Actually it's called "yakisobe."

You go to prison,

the first thing you put in your locker,

peanut butter and jelly, babe, for days like this.

When they send you that, you eat this.

Man: Yes, sir.

They're trying to kill us with high blood pressure.

Four salts.

(rapid popping)

That's the officer--

officer barracks, when they come up...

can't go home the next day

'cause they got to go to work again.

That's where they sleep at.

Have their little picnics and stuff.

(popping continues)

They shooting. That's the shooting range.

Behind the trees over there. Practicing their shots.

- You can see the range? - Yeah, you can see the smoke.

The range is over there. See the brown shack over there?

Like hidden by the trees.

Look at the white one, go to the left.

See the white one? Go to the left in the trees.

Today should be yesterday. The guys are very, very nervous.

We have done act one. We have done act two.

We have never done act one and act two.

So if you ask me "how long is this production?"

I couldn't really tell you.

We have over 100 cues.

So the technical coordination is gonna be tough.

We have some 30 set changes in act one alone.

Brother Kenyatta, he got these guys into shape

with the marches and the steps in like a half an hour,

just drilled them really hard.

Now they sharp with that.

We just got perfected with scene changes.

This is the magic part right here.

This is the part that the process works itself.

Now when they put the uniforms on, man, it changes the game.

I mean, it like took me to a whole nother world.

It just made me think about what it's gonna feel like

the day that I put my clothes on to go home.

Let's hear the music.

(thunder rumbles)

Oh, you know what?

Let's scrap the thunder. Let's go right into the music.

Music, please.

(military drum plays march)

Attention! Officer on deck!

(chair falls)

You lose this case.

- I'm still your superior officer! - And I'm yours, Matthew.

And punished by filling sandbags--

You got to get your glove down!

Alphas dismissed!

Now who the fuck is PFC William T. Santiago?!

Man: If you have a problem with your corporal,

who do you bring that problem to?

All: Sir, the sergeant, sir!

Katherine: All parties?

Sorry, can we stop for the count?

Let's everybody get down for the count

so we can get this over quick.

Excuse me, brothers, can everybody please come down

off the stage and come down out here?

Does anyone still have their identification card, anybody?

Gripper, Darnel, 7E15.

(military drum playing march)

(speaks indistinctly)


- What's your name? - Captain Markinson.

- Hale. Hale. - Hale?

Sir. (speaks indistinctly) 0185820.

Man: Yo, Marine, have you got honor?!

Lance Corporal Dawson.

Your Corps helps those who help themself!

Code reds are for those worth the time.

- When?! - After six months, sir!

What we do after six months?!

You guys...

are a freak show!

I think for me,

like, as far as, like, my attitude in here,

I realize that I have to do things differently.

You know, that's just the bottom line.

For a period of time, it was like

I had a rabbit's foot in my back pocket.

I was able to walk away from a lot of stuff.

Even though I didn't kill this victim,

I was into the streets hard,

I was into the streets thoroughly.

This life right here

is a lot better than the life I was living.

A lot of times the respect I was getting came from fear,

came from people scared of what I would do to them.

Like, I'd cause a situation that you gotta do something,

and people feared me for that.

I'd come into a situation and make it hot.

I was distracted for quite a while.

In the box, actually,

which speaks again to how this thing is designed.

I had the opportunity where it was just me,

and more distractions had been pulled away,

and those distractions are even there, too.

I'm sorry if I'm talking out of school, but, I mean,

you know, people are ingenious, and there's a constant struggle

going on in here between security and the prisoners.

Prisoners are trying to get it in.

Security is trying to keep it out.

I respect both sides of that equation.

But in that space, I said,

"Why would I do these things just enough

to stay hooked to these things so I can go back out there

and get full-fledged back into them?"

And that gradual transformation took place

I would say maybe like a year after I got involved with RTA,

because even getting involved in RTA initially,

I got involved for the wrong reason.

I was chasing skirts. I seen a lot of women up here.

I wanted to be a part of this thing.

I wanted to get around some of these women.

But as I got to know these women and got to see

that they're more like sisters and cousins and aunts

and people who-- who treat me like a man for me,

you know what I mean, they don't come in here scared of me.

They treat me like an individual that's trying to learn,

and that's what made me want to learn

and made me want to do right.

It's better to be loved and respected

than it is to be feared.

I know I changed a lot,

but I also know that, you know, somebody has to pay

for what happened to that person.

So even though this time hurts, even though it's killing me--

like, I was 20 years of age when I came to prison.

I'm now going on 36.

And this is a wonderful thing when this realization came.

Even when I killed this man, I knew I was wrong.

And that's not justification. That's not a copout.

I knew I was wrong, and I did it anyway.

That made it a lot easier, I think,

when it came time to confront the demon that was me.

Ka: You reap what you sow, you know?

I have nobody else to blame but myself.

Clarence: I believe you put the bars up.

You erect the bars.

You create the amount of time you spend locked in

no matter where you are, whether you're in Sing Sing

or whether you're on Wall Street.

You create your own cage.

Man: ♪ Up in the morning with the rising sun ♪

All: ♪ Up in the morning with the rising sun ♪

Man: ♪ Gonna run all day till the day is done ♪

All: ♪ Gonna run all day till the day is done ♪

Man: ♪ Left, right

All: ♪ One, two

Man: ♪ Go right

All: ♪ Three, four

♪ Left, right

All: ♪ One, two, three, four

One, two! Three, four!

Are we missing something?

Why does it feel like there's one that we--

Because it's a repeat.

Oh, there's something we do twice.

Man: It wasn't one where you just you said "one, two."

- You said "three, four." - Ain't there like a--

Man: Everybody says the "one, two, there, four."

(indistinct chattering)

So basically, as long as we just take our cue off of him,

then we're gonna be good.

- ♪ Left, right - All: ♪ One, two

♪ Go right

All: ♪ Three four

♪ Left, right

All: ♪ One, two, three, four

One, two! Three, four!

- Can we do the Dawson? - Let's do the Dawson.

Stop telling me where to go. I'm doing this.

- We gotta get it! You know it! - No, I will give it.

I will get there!

- Please, please. - That's what that means.

- We have one director. - Please.

Even if you don't like it, you suck it up,

and whatever you don't like, you bring it to someone.

A perfect person to take it to would be Bill,

but by the grace of God, he'll be home.

Clarence: Last night, they told me that

something happened with my paperwork

where the Commissioner's supposed to review it

before I get conditions set for my parole,

and somehow, nobody got the paperwork

to the Commissioner or whatever.

Something happened and I get screwed.

Now they're saying I gotta stay in prison for 40 more days

past my conditional release, which is supposed to be illegal.

You're telling me I should just be grateful.

You're fucking me, but just be grateful

that we're using grease is how I feel.

If you need to bring it to somebody,

then you bring it to somebody after this production is over

and we will resolve it, but right now,

all of that, crush that, smash that.

That does not exist anymore.

There's certain many ways that I could have handled this.

I could have-- like my inside was not--

the inner wolf was saying, yo, man, see,

this is why we do what we do

because these people don't give a fuck about you, man.

Nobody cares. Fuck it.

I might as well say fuck that six months

and stay in prison and just go crazy.

But then another way to deal with it would have been

to fold up on the floor and cry and kick

and complain, and that's not really my style.

So the way that I chose to deal with it

was to show strength and just deal with it,

roll with the punches and the reason why

I chose that way is because a lot of men around here

look up to me, and I need to be strong

for those guys as well as myself.

This is not the time to crumble.

The time is to be strong for myself and others.

Let's go.

Man: Attention!

♪ Lift your head and lift your lift it high ♪

All: ♪ Lift your head and lift your lift it high ♪

Man: ♪ Corporal Dawson's passing by ♪

All: ♪ Corporal Dawson's passing by ♪

- ♪ Left, right - All: ♪ Sound off

- ♪ Sing it out loud - All: ♪ Three, four

♪ Left, right

All: ♪ One, two, three, four

One, two! Stand proud!

Let's do it one more time.

It's like a home for me, and I've learned

in this short five months, six months,

going on seven months being involved with RTA

that there's gonna be strife.

There's gonna be difficulty

and wanting to express-- express yourself.

Say what you need to say, but let's be cordial

and respectful about the process.

So that means if I see something that's not right

or I believe is not right, then I should say something.

We were running, and I'd fallen back

about 20 or 30 feet

going down a rocky, unstable hill.

Colonel Jessep, you have a right to remain silent.

You have a right--

You have a right to consult with an attorney prior to--

I mean, prior to-- (stammers)

Colonel Jessep, you have a right to remain silent.

Any statement you make can be used against you

in a trial by court-martial or judicial

or administrative procedure.

You have a right to consult with an attorney.

Or judicial or administrative proceeding.



The audience is gonna be the offender population tonight,

and at times, they can be rough.

Sing Sing has the toughest crowd

that you could ever perform in front of

because if they do not like you,

they will let you know immediately.

If you get up here and you don't know where to sit

and you make a fool of yourself, you're gonna get it.

There's been times when people have gotten

"ya'ed" off the stage.

If you hear the crowd start going "ya, ya, ya"

that means they don't like you.

They will boo you quick.

It's like "Showtime at the Apollo" here.

Only there's no throwing.

There's no food throwing, no vegetable throwing.

There's a lot of cursing, a lot of,

"Get him off the fucking stage."

(laughs) "Bring the TV screen down."


All: Energy, energy, flowing through my body.

Energy, energy, flowing through my body.

Energy, energy, flowing through my body.

Energy, energy, flowing through my body!

Energy, energy, flowing through my body!

Energy, energy, flowing through my body!

Energy, energy, flowing through my body.

Energy, energy, flowing through my body.

Energy, energy, flowing through my body.

Energy, energy, flowing through my body.

Energy, energy, flowing through my body!

Energy, energy, flowing through my body!

Energy, energy, flowing through my body!

Energy, energy, flowing through my body!


(thunder rumbles)

Man: Attention! Report!

Sir, Corporal Dunn, Alpha Squad present, sir!

Corporal Toma, Bravo present, sir!

Sir, Corporal Rainmaker, Charlie squad present!

Sir, Lance Corporal Dawson,

- Delta Squad, present less two! - Report!

Kendrick, you know who he is, in the play right?

Hakim. He was scared to death.

He's-- he doesn't like talking and opening up.

- Priorities! - Unit, Corps, God, country!

- Yo! - Unit, Corps, God, country!

Do you need someone from outside of this unit

- to show you how to be good? - Sir, no, sir!

Do you need someone from outside of this unit

- to show you how to be right? - Sir, no, sir!

I believe-- I'm not trying to take credit for what he's done,

but I helped him feel more comfortable stepping up,

and so it feels great when he's up there

doing his thing and now he has the whole prison buzzing

talking about his performance.

Officers that never even said anything to me before

was like, "How you doing?"

Like, "That's an excellent job."

One officer today told me, said,

"Could I get your autograph now,

or do I have to wait until later?"

Help me! Help me!

This is my job, private, okay?!

This is my responsibility.

I've gotta train you how to be right.

You're a Marine, and you've got on honor.

You can't make mistakes, private.

You don't make mistakes, not while you're in my squad.

The Corps helps those who help themselves!

Javier: Two weeks ago, you know,

I completely, you know, found myself as Santiago.

My name is PFC William T. Santiago.

I am a Marine stationed at Marine barracks,

Windward, Guantánamo Bay, Cuba...

I was gonna do something better with my life.

In 1996, the USA Army, they send me an application,

but I didn't pay mind to that, you know?

I say, "I don't speak English, you know, this is not for me."

I was brought to the hospital where I was told

I just had heat exhaustion

and was explained to by the doctor

that my body had trouble with the hot sun,

and I hyperventilate.

I was put in remedial physical training

and punished by filling sandbags every day

after I stand my post on the fence line.

Now when I have that uniform, I remember, you know,

and that was a flashback to me, you know?

I get to be, you know, a Marine, you know, or Navy.

I get to be somebody else.

Being a part of this whole process right here,

this is one of those moments where you look back at your life

and you can always look into it and drink from this well

that we created here and feel like

it can nourish you back even when you're down.

Corporal Howard, I'm a Marine.

Is there no book, no manual, no pamphlet,

no set of orders or regulations that let me know that,

as a Marine, one of my duties is to perform code reds?

No, sir. No book, sir.

No further questions.

This is like a blessing to me.

I mean, you talk about second chances, man,

we talk about having a new life.

Lieutenant Kaffee, that's not in the book.

Corporal, you've been stationed at Gitmo for 13 months.

You mean to tell me in all that time, you never had a meal?

(chuckles) No, sir, three squares a day.

I'm confused, how would you know

where the men's mess hall was if it's not in this book?

I guess I just followed the crowd at chow time, sir.


No more questions.

This is like you go back to your cell,

but it's like you ain't in your cell no more.

It's like you're suspended for a minute.

I was talking the other day about something

that Kate Powers taught me in one of her workshops

when she said when we were given a part

when we're doing a play to look for the love

that are in the scenes because like in this play,

"A Few Good Men,"

there are a lot of scenes that are driven by love.

When me and my codefendant Downey,

that's about love.

I'm a big brother to him.

When you understand that and you're able to capture it,

the audience can feel it if you know what you're doing.

But if you don't know what you're doing,

like you walk on, "I'm the commander,"

and you just boss people around and it's all ego,

it's not as powerful as a scene driven by love.

- It was a code red, sir. - 8,000 men on that base.

- Why you? - I was the squad leader, sir.

It was my job, sir.

Yeah, but why did you care?

- Private Santiago-- - Not you, him.

I wanna know why you cared.

- We had a responsibility. - Bullshit!

Me and Robbie, I didn't do nothing crazy,

but I felt real stupid afterwards when I lost it,

you know, like throwing a tantrum.

Get your house in order

so that these men can believe in you again.

Get your house in order

so that the Lord our God can look down and say,

"There is a United States Marine,

and I will stand at his side."

Kicking his ass, I didn't feel the need to

because his violation didn't warrant that,

but I definitely wanted to talk back to him

the way I felt he had spoken to me.

You're going to Leavenworth for seven years,

and there's nothing I can do about it!

And that's what I did.

I spoke-- I gave him all that venom back.

Lieutenant Kendrick gave you an order

- to give Santiago a code red. - Yes, sir.

You mind telling me why the hell you never mentioned this before?

- You didn't ask us, sir. - Cutie-pie shit

is not gonna win you a place in my heart, Corporal.

I get paid no matter how much time you spend in jail.

Yes, sir. I know you do, sir.

Fuck you, Howard.

And I'm glad that he forgave me because he's a good brother,

and again, he taught me a lesson because sometimes,

I don't have the ability to forgive people.

I may squash a beef with somebody, but in the end,

we can never be all right.

With him, he genuinely forgave me.

I think I can get a good deal. I think I can get six months.

We got good chemistry together, like, you know...

- What do we do after six months? - I'm talking to you about--

We didn't join the Corps 'cause we felt like it.

We joined 'cause it was a life decision.

We wanted to live by a code, sir,

and we found it in the Corps...

Love is what makes you reflect back on something

deep and meaningful that stays with you forever.

It's what makes you stay up late at night

just thinking about, damn, that was a powerful scene.

If we were wrong, tell me.

I'll accept that.

Showing love is a sign of bravery,

especially when you know

everybody else is wearing a façade.

I believe in this program wholeheartedly,

and I'm loyal to it.

Just like how Dawson is loyal to the Marine Corps,

I'm loyal to RTA.

The only difference is that I'm not a part

of something that is exploiting me.

Personally, I've spent my whole life as an outsider.

So I've kind of longed for that kind of unity that--

that I'm content with being the weirdo.

But that just hides the fact

that I want to belong to something, you know?

Whether it's my family as RTA

or it's my family as the Hughses

or whoever it is that I say, "These are my people,

this is my family," I have to make sure

that my actions do not reflect poorly on them.

Right now, the gang...

they lost the-- how you say-- the trov--

the trust, the confidence.

If right now, they open that door and say,

"You're free to go,"

there's not gonna be a lot of members of a gang no more.

I see it in other people.

I see other groups, how they stick together

and how much they fight with each other.

And it's kind of cool.

You know, it's like you have brothers.

So in a way, RTA replaces that.

It's my gang.

Do you solemnly swear that the testimony

you will give in this general court martial will be the truth,

the whole truth, and nothing but the truth

- so help you God? - Yes, I do.

Different people who feel like, yo, what the hell are they doing

in college in there and putting on plays?

And I want to say, yo, you got to get over it.

You gotta let that go because punishing me

isn't making you any better,

and desiring to punish me is making you worse.

I can't say that. I killed a man.

The defense failed to get a deposition from you.

So I'm going to break the cardinal rule

and ask you questions without knowing the answers.

Seems a little more sporting that way, Lieutenant.

Besides the man that I killed, who was clearly a victim,

there is his family, and these are victims,

and there's my family, and they are victims

and I am a victim, too.

The difference being that I victimized me.

The me that I am today is suffering

because the me that I was then

didn't give a shit about me today.

I didn't care about me tomorrow.

Me then was only thinking about him.

Forgiving him...

is a difficult thing.

It makes me appreciate the value of forgiveness

in asking for forgiveness because it is so liberating

to forgive that...

why wouldn't you want that for someone else?

Why wouldn't you want to say, listen, I have done you wrong,

and I really, really, really, really hope

you can forgive me.

And if that person can,

it would be such a blessing for them,

and no one should withhold that from anybody else.

Are you saying it's not possible

for this court to hear the truth?!

This court? I don't know what that means.

I'm saying it's not possible for you to hear it.

- Why not? - Because you can't handle it, son!

You can't handle the truth.

You can't handle the sad but historic reality.

- What reality are you-- - We live in a world that has walls!

And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns.

Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lieutenant Weinberg?

I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom.

You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines.

You have that luxury, the luxury of the blind,

the luxury of not knowing what I know,

that Santiago's death, while tragic,

probably saved lives, and my existence,

while grotesque and incomprehensible to you,

saves lives!

You can't handle it because deep down,

in places you don't talk about, you want me on that wall.

You need me there!

We use words like "code" and "honor" and "loyalty."

We use these words as the backbone to a life

spent defending something.

You use them as a punchline.

I have neither the time nor the inclination

to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps

under the blanket of the very freedom I provide

and then questions the manner in which I provide it.

I'd prefer you simply said "thank you"

- and went on your way. - (laughter)

Otherwise, grab a weapon and stand a post!

Either way, I don't give a damn

what you think you're entitled to.

It they let me go because I've lied to them

and myself about what this thing is

then the whole thing is-- is pointless.

If I die in prison but I'm able to get this thing...

and bring it out and let the sun just burn it away,

then I'm good.

Ka: We're like terrorists to a people terrified

tired of living petrified no longer hesitant

to take the stand and testify.

They see the need to get rid of you, but me,

I still see myself in you.

No really, I do. I cry just like you.

Silently screaming at night like screw the judge,

the DA and the 18 be that didn't represent me.

The motherfucker's played me.

Even my family I feel like failed me.

But then you know what? I say hold up.

I gotta own mine. I'm grown.

And I see how prison saved me.

I'm grateful that I came into contact with RTA.

I'm grateful that I took advantage of college.

I'm grateful that I didn't just sit here

and waste my time and waste my life away.

I'm grateful that I did take this opportunity to grow

into the man that I'm supposed to be,

and I'm grateful for the opportunity

to get some things accomplished when I leave.

- You ordered the code red! - Yes.

- Say it, Colonel! - I ordered the code red!

- Say it again, sir! - I ordered the code red!

(audience murmurs)

At least for me, today I'm alive,

drug-free, and healthy, blessed with mercy,

a chance at college degrees.

That nigga I once was, I no longer want to be.

I don't want my family ashamed of me.

So the only nigga I'm down to kill

is that nigga I used to be.

(all shouting)


Colonel Jessep, do you understand these rights

as I've just read them to you?

(sighs) Let me tell you something, my friend.

These people have no idea how did defend a fucking nation!

I am trying to defend a nation!

All you did here today was weakened the country.

That's all you did. So pat yourself on the back.

You put people's lives in danger.

Sweet dreams, son.

Don't call me son.

I'm a lawyer and an officer of the United States Navy,

and you're under arrest, you son of a bitch.

(audience shouts and applauds)

The witness is excused!

(cheers and applause)

Man: ♪ Lift your head and lift it high ♪

Men: ♪ Lift your head and lift it high ♪

Man: ♪ Delta company's passing by ♪

Men: ♪ Delta company's passing by ♪

Man: ♪ I don't know what I've been told ♪

♪ I don't know what I've been told ♪

Man: ♪ All Marines are mighty bold

Men: ♪ All Marines are mighty bold

Man: ♪ Sound off

Men: ♪ One, two

Man: ♪ Sound off

Men: ♪ Three, four

Man: ♪ Sound off

Man: ♪ One, two, three, four

Man: One, two! Three, four!

$20, that's yours.

This is your paperwork,

and this is the balance of your account.

Okay? Okay.

God to go?

Yep, you're free to go.


You know, every day is not a pizza party in here for us.

The reality is, is that prison is painful.

It's painful being in a place and a situation

where you could just be shipped off and sent away

from people that you consider family,

just like in slavery where you're just separated.

That's the reality that comes with being inside prison.

Any given day somebody could just be transferred

out of the facility and you have no say-so

about where you're going, and you have no idea

what atmosphere you may be walking into.

- Producer: You ready? - I'm ready.

Prison is painful because at any given time

you could be placed in a situation

where you have five guards that want to jump on you

and beat you while you're handcuffed

with your arms behind your back.

You know, you have to deal with the worries

of getting into an altercation of somebody

ripping your face off from behind

with a box cutter or a scalpel.

That's what we deal with every day.

So for anybody who feels like we don't deserve that,

understand we are being punished why were here.

This is not easy. I got 16 years.

I'm feeling every bit of those 16 years.

What should've been the best years of my life

were wasted inside these prison walls.

I'm being punished for my crime.

So for anybody who questions, like, why we deserve

or why we should have a program like RTA,

they need to understand the mission statement of DOC

is not just to punish us.

It's also to make us better fit for society.

But they don't really follow through with that.

The programs they come up with

don't really help rehabilitate us men.

It's programs like RTA that does that job.

One gate away.

I'm one gate away.

Name, number, date of birth.

Clarence Maclin, 96-A-7997,


Okay. Good to go!

Man: Okay.

Man: ♪ Mama, mama, can't you see ♪

♪ What this score has done for me? ♪

♪ I used to drive a Cadillac

♪ Now I'm humping with my pack ♪

♪ Oh, mama, mama, can't you see ♪

♪ What this Corps has done for me? ♪

♪ Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa

♪ Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa

Men: ♪ Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa

♪ Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa


Producer: What now?

Now I guess we go eat something, huh?

Man: ♪ I don't know what I've been told ♪

Men: ♪ I don't know what I've been told ♪

Man: ♪ All Marines are mighty bold

Men: ♪ All Marines are mighty bold

Man: ♪ Sound off

Men: ♪ One, two

Man: ♪ Sound off

Men: ♪ Three, four

Man: ♪ Sound off

Men: ♪ One, two, three, four

Men: One, two! Three, four!

That's cool. That's good.

Are we a little too loud 'cause he is like a little softer?

No, that's all right. That's all right.

- Pump me up! Don't let me down! - Pump me up! Don't let me down!

- I'll pump it up! All around! - I'll pump it up! All around!

(shouting indistinctly)

- A-one, two, three, four! - Marine Corps!

- A-one, two, three, four! - Marine Corps!

- Army, Navy was not for me! - Marine Corps!

- Air Force was just too easy! - Marine Corps!

- What I needed was a little bit more! - Marine Corps!

- I need a life that is hard-core! - Marine Corps!

- I started where it all began! - Marine Corps!

- A little rock with lots of sand! - Marine Corps!

- I can't forget about Hollywood! - Marine Corps!

- San Diego, and it's all good! - Marine Corps!

- PT drill all day long! - Marine Corps!

- Keep me running from dusk till dawn! - Marine Corps!


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