A History of Barred from Life

Shortly after its premiere Barred from Life was presented on May 1st, 2004 at the American Association of Law Schools - Clinical Legal Education national conference in San Diego. In January 2005 this organization honored Barred from Life with a special CLEA CREATIVITY AWARD for its approach to confronting important legal and humanitarian issues and for exemplifying inter-disciplinary collaboration. Cookie Ridolfi, David J. Popalisky and John Stoll were present to receive this award at the AALS national convention at the Hilton Hotel in San Francisco.

Barred from Life premiered at Santa Clara University on Wednesday, March 31, 2004 to enthusiastic acclaim from over 500 people over two performances. Created and performed by David J. Popalisky, Assistant Professor in Dance, in collaboration with Cookie Ridolfi, Director of the Northern California Innocence Project, this performance work illuminates the human experience of individuals convicted for crimes they did not commit. Post performance discussions addressed the critical issues of wrongful conviction and included Delbert Tibbs and James Newsome, exonerees from Chicago, additional San Francisco Bay area exonerees, David J. Popalisky and Cookie Ridolfi. Audience feedback has expressed appreciation for the emotional and educational impact of the performance in introducing the issue of wrongful conviction. More importantly Barred from Life has moved them toward action - pursuing further research and contributing their time and money to furthering the cause of the Innocence Project.

During the week of the premiere Delbert Tibbs and James Newsome were joined by Professors Popalisky and Ridolfi in visits to classes, open forums and student living centers to further engage the university community in this topic and help process reactions to the performance.

Barred from Life was conceived in the spring of 2002 in a parking lot conversation between Ridolfi and Popalisky after dropping their boys at school. "While I knew, vaguely, of Cookie's work on behalf of the wrongfully convicted," said Popalisky, "our talk unveiled the need to expose this issue to greater public awareness. It suddenly struck us that a performance work could powerfully illuminate the tragic human consequences of wrongful conviction."

In the summer of 2003, Popalisky conducted numerous interviews in the Chicago and San Francisco Bay areas with exonerated individuals who had spent years in prison, some on death row. "I needed to hear the exonerated men's stories first hand," said Popalisky, "but more importantly, to sense their presence as men, most of whom are about my age, who had survived a special kind of hell." Based on these interviews, Popalisky created Barred from Life to address the complexity of wrongful conviction through a combination of media including dance movement, video imagery, excerpts from interviews with exonerees, and an original score by True Rosaschi.

Barred from Life was performed on May 1, 2004 in San Diego at the American Association of Law Schools Clinical Conference. Once again there was a post performance discussion with a number of exonerees. After the show, members of the audience expressed interest in having Barred from Life performed in their communities around the country. The creators are currently making plans to tour this work to various cities around the country.

Barred from Life was made possible by the support of the Bannan Center, Hackworth Faculty grants, a University Research grant, the SCU Center of Performing Arts, and the Northern California Innocence Project.

Read entire article "Barred from Life - A Translation in Process" published in Explore magazine, Bannan Center for Jesuit Education.
Special thanks from Barred from Life.





Northern California
Innocence Project

"We knew the whole time that all of them were innocent. None of them knew what was going on so they couldn't lie. Even after they beat them with wet towels, rubber hoses - they still wouldn't let up - they said they didn't do it."

- GWEN JIMERSON (sister-in-law of Verneal Jimerson)