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The Medea Project puts women’s hope and healing on stage

David Wilson
From left to right: Angela Wilson, Fe Bongolan, Rhodessa Jones (woman holding bowl), Stella Adelman, Cassandra Steptoe, Tavia Council, Samantha Dizon, Deborah King, Lisa Frias


Actress, writer, and educator Rhodessa Jones got the idea for The Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women almost 30 years ago, after teaching classes at the San Francisco County Jail.

Jones founded The Medea Project to explore whether an arts-based approach could help reduce the numbers of women returning to jail.


The program has since expanded to include women with HIV. Voices From The Edge is the project’s latest performance piece, and it features stories and writings from women with HIV.


It’s a collaboration with San Francisco’s Theatre Rhinoceros, known as the longest-running queer theater company in the world. It’s still a work-in-progress, so right now you can only catch it in staged readings at the Gateway Theatre in San Francisco.


Rhodessa Jones came to KALW’s studios to talk about the program’s mission of arts as social activism.


"I was in a family where you didn’t talk about your cousin Fanny, you didn’t talk about your cousin Maisie, because they were the wild girls who were always locked down, I found out much later. And I thought, how do we create public communion? Which is what the Medea Project really is. It’s about putting those stories center stage. What can you share with the culture about incarcerated women versus pretending it’s not happening?"

There will be staged readings of Voices From The Edge at the Gateway Theatre in San Francisco Monday, June 11 and June 12.