Covid in Custody

  • Covid in Custody: How UCI Faculty and Students Exposed the Ravages of COVID in California’s Prisons

Covid in Custody

How UCI Faculty and Students Exposed the Ravages of COVID in California’s Prisons

Written and Directed by Jane Page and Gavin Cameron-Web


May 17 & 18
Three performances

The Little Theatre

Register for free tickets

Hundreds Dead. Thousands Infected. Stories from the Inside.


COVID in Custody is a docu-drama written by Jane Page (Co-Head of Directing. Department of Drama) and Gavin Cameron-Webb. It chronicles the establishment of an online archive which houses over 4,000 first hand stories of those held in California’s prisons during the COVID Pandemic.

The drama chronicles the determination of three professors – Keramet Reiter, Naomi Sugie and Kristin Turney – from UCI Law and the Department of Criminology, Law and Society and the Department of Sociology who worked with two graduate students, Joanne DeCaro and Gabe Rosales, and one recent graduate, Erin Secrist to envision and build the Archive during the fraught early months of the Pandemic.

The play starts as the impact of the pandemic quickly became clear to the faculty and students as a real threat to the thousands incarcerated in California’s 35 federal institutions. We follow the faculty from their realisation of the impending crisis through their determination to do something positive to address the situation - how they began by writing op eds for local news outlets, and recruited the rest of their team and then went on to fund raise to provide PPE to the prisons.

The play describes the innumerable challenges that the group faced in figuring out how to collect, protect and share these stories. It is a testament to the group’s tenacity, and ingenuity in overcoming the many obstacles in their path.

COVID in Custody also contains many compelling episodes of actual experiences of prisoners, as we hear their authentic voices as they fought not to be forgotten in the maelstrom of the pandemic.

The play’s dialogue is taken from detailed interviews which Jane Page conducted with each member of the founding group. Profound issues such as social justice were discussed, and questions raised about the very character of our society and the choices we made with regard to the incarcerated.

The docudrama celebrates the exceptional dedication of UCI faculty and students who strive to make a difference. And the creation of this play is an outstanding example of the impact of cross-departmental collaboration and cooperation; a portrait of the power and effectiveness of teamwork with reverberations far beyond the campus into the world.

Performances - NEW DATES
Evenings: May 17 at 6:30 and 8 p.m.
               May 18 at 7 p.m.

Evenings: April 29, 30 at
Matinee: April 30, May 1 at 2:00 p.m.

Free Admission with Registration at Eventbrite

This project is sponsored by UCI Illuminations and by a Claire Trevor School of the Arts' 21C grant

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Tuesday May 17, 2022, 6:30 pm
Tuesday May 17, 2022, 8:00 pm
Wednesday May 18, 2022, 7:00 pm