THE STORY: Culled from interviews, letters, transcripts, case files and the public record, THE EXONERATED tells the true stories of six wrongfully convicted survivors of death row in their own words. In this ninety-minute intermissionless play, we meet Kerry, a sensitive Texan brutalized on death row for twenty-two years before being exonerated by DNA evidence; we meet Gary, a Midwestern organic farmer condemned for the murder of his own parents and later exonerated when two motorcycle-gang members confess. We meet Robert, an African-American horse groomer who spent seven years on death row for the murder of a white woman before evidence emerges that the victim was found clutching hair from a Caucasian attacker. We hear from David, a shy man with aspirations to the ministry, bullied into confessing at eighteen to a robbery/murder he had nothing to do with, scarred from a youth spent in prison and struggling to regain his faith; and from Sunny, a bright-spirited hippie who, along with her husband, spent seventeen years in prison for the murder of two police officers—while another man confessed and was ignored by the courts. And we meet Delbert, a poet who serves as the play’s center, convicted of a rape/murder in the Deep South of the 1970s and later freed when evidence surfaced showing that he was not even in the town when the crime occurred. Moving between first-person monologues and scenes set in courtrooms and prisons, the six interwoven stories paint a picture of an American criminal justice system gone horribly wrong—and of six brave souls who persevered to survive it.
Winner 2003 Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards. “The #1 play of the year…intense and deeply affecting…” —NY Times. “Riveting. Simple, honest storytelling that demands reflection.” —Associated Press. “Artful and moving…pays tribute to the resilience of human hearts and minds.” —Variety. “Stark…riveting…cunningly orchestrated.” —The New Yorker. “Hard-hitting, powerful, and socially relevant.” —Hollywood Reporter.