PlayMakers Repertory Company kicks off its 2017-2018 season with the world premiere of “Count,” in the first production of its PRC2 second-stage series, Aug. 23-27. This docu-drama written by Lynden Harris is co-produced with the North Carolina based collective, Hidden Voices. The production is directed by Kathryn Hunter-Williams, member of the PlayMakers resident acting company, in her PlayMakers directorial debut.

Based on years of conversations between Hidden Voices and men on death row from throughout the country, “Count” asks us to experience a day-in-the-life of six men as they reflect upon the life paths that led them to this moment and place. Their lively, difficult and ultimately affirming search for what ancient philosophers called “the good life” challenges and transforms us, with the recognition that we are all struggling for the same things.

“‘Count’ is a theatrical distillation of work that Lynden Harris, Hidden Voices and I have done for more than four years,” says director Kathryn Hunter-Williams. “In interviewing incarcerated men here in North Carolina, and throughout the United States, we tapped into issues of poverty, mental illness, race, and familial incarceration as recurring themes in the maps of their lives. We also tapped into things we didn’t expect — hope and love. My hope is that this production helps audiences see that these men aren’t so much “other” than us, and, using theatre as an agent, for the next generation we might change the factors that pushed these men along a certain path, and help redraw some real-life stories.”

“I am incredibly excited to open our new season with a searing, provocative, heart-forward work of theatre that continues PlayMakers’ commitment to opening dialogue about relevant and important issues of our time.

Incarceration, social justice, crime and punishment are complex, huge scale issues, but in this work we see them through a personal, human-scale lens that makes them that much more relatable,” says Vivienne Benesch, PlayMakers Producing Artistic Director. “What makes ‘Count’ so compelling is that Lynden and Kathy have brought us a work that is both compassionate and unflinching, and in the intimate setting of our PRC2  second stage, audiences are literally and emotionally front row to this thought provoking, transformative journey.”

Performances of “Count” will be at 7:30 p.m. nightly August 23 to 27, and 2 p.m. Aug. 27 in the Center for Dramatic Art on Country Club Road. Following each performance will be a free talkback discussion between patrons, creative team, and community members from local and state legal, government, and social services organizations.

Ticket prices start at $15 and may be purchased at www.playmakersrep.org or by calling (919) 962-7529.

Funding for the development of “Count” was provided by The MAP Fund, which is primarily supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, with additional funds from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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