THE EXONERATED Review –Liberty and Justice for All?

This is an example of theater at its finest. Powered by righteous indignation, there’s no room for melodrama. Each of these innocent people––cheated by our justice system, then humiliated and tortured by our penal system including one wrongful execution—tells their tragic story of senseless, blatantly unfair convictions. This award-winning play drives home a profound emotional and moral message.


Playwrights Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen who interviewed these six former Death Row prisoners deserve great credit for presenting these stories with just the right touch.

Their craft in capturing the pathos as each of the exonerees tells his or her own heart-breaking story, the magnitude of their losses and, ultimately, the challenges of rebuilding their lives is gripping yet dignified.


This, the inaugural collaboration between Next and Northwestern’s Theatre and Interpretation Center (TIC), The Exonerated is being staged at TIC in partnership with the Center on Wrongful Convictions (Center) and features a cast of professional and student artists working together on this exploration of the criminal justice system.


We had the good fortune to attend the post-show discussion on the evening when the speakers were award-winning, best-selling author Scott Turow and Jeff Urdangen, lawyers who have represented the wrongfully convicted and indigent, and Juan Rivera, who was convicted three times of a crime he could not have committed—he had an iron-clad alibi and his DNA did not match that at the crime scene.  Both lawyers spoke compassionately and fervently of their efforts and successes in winning the freedom of the innocent accused.  But Juan Rivera stole the show.  His dignity and exuberant love of the life he has made for himself--after 20 of unjust incarceration-- is truly inspiring.  


Each performance has a post-show discussion hosted by Next Theatre, TIC and the Center. Each post-show discussion includes artistic staff and artists involved in the production, as well as special guests familiar with the topic. Additional guests are listed at

THIS IS A ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME THEATRICAL EXPERIENCE. Make your reservation today. Really.

Jessica Blank and Eric Jensen’s The Exonerated, directed by Northwestern University alumna Cat Miller, and co-produced with the Theatre and Interpretation Center (TIC) at Northwestern University and presented in partnership with the Northwestern University School of Law’s Center on Wrongful Convictions (Center).

  • Continues until May 5 at the Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive, Northwestern University.
  • Single ticket proceeds benefit the Center.
    Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m. and
    Sundays at 2 p.m.
  • Tickets are $10 - $25, with $5 tickets available to full-time Northwestern students on advance purchase.
  • Tickets may be purchased at or by calling 847.491.7282.



Since its founding following the 1998 National Conference on Wrongful Convictions and the Death Penalty, the Center has been instrumental in the exonerations of 35 innocent men and women in Illinois. Before the founding of the Center, members of its staff were instrumental in 16 additional exonerations — including that of Gary Dotson, who in 1989 became the first person in the world to be exonerated by DNA.   For more information, visit


The Exonerated is funded in part by The Evanston Community Foundation and The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation. This production is supported in part by a grant from the Alumnae of Northwestern.



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