2002–2003

The Exonerated

Written by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen

Directed by Bob Balaban

Sunny Jacobs was convicted of a crime she did not commit and lost 16 years of her life to death row. Frighteningly, Sunny's story is not unique. It could and does happen dozens of times right here, right now, in the United States. The Exonerated tells the true tales of six innocent death row survivors. In their own words. In words you won't forget. Seen by over 500,000 people across the country, The Exonerated was made into a Court TV movie starring Susan Sarandon, Danny Glover and Aiden Quinn, and raised over $800,000 for the individuals depicted in the play.

The Exonerated played to sold-out crowds at Culture Project's 45 Bleecker Street Theater for 18 months, from 2002 to 2003, before touring the country with featured performances by Robin Williams, Brian Dennehy, Mia Farrow, Stockard Channing, Avery Brooks, and other distinguished actors. The Exonerated was featured at the Edinburgh Theatre Festival in Summer 2005 and played to rave reviews at Riverside Studios in London in Spring 2006.

The Exonerated has since been made into a full-length film by Court TV, starring Brian Dennehy, Susan Sarandon, Danny Glover and Aidan Quinn.

Press release [pdf]

“Jaw-dropping... an intense and deeply affecting new play”
– The New York Times
“Seeing [The Exonerated]… significantly affected [Governor Ryan of Illinois’] decision to commute all of the existing death row sentences to life in prison.”
– Barry Scheck, founder, The Innocence Project
“[The Exonerated's] is brilliantly conceived, staged and acted, but its soul-scouring and heart-wrenching power comes by opening a window on to a broken system whose mistakes ripple out to roil countless lives, and whose score is tolled in life and death.”
– Senator Patrick Leahy
“What has been done through this play is one of the most extraordinary events I have ever seen, and it will do more to promote justice than any literary effort I have ever seen.”
– Former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno