A Look inside “Life Without Parole”

warren doody


Warren J. Doody is Professor of English at Vanguard University, where he has taught for the last sixteen years. The writer of numerous plays, screenplays, and short stories, he has won multiple awards for his work. Life Without Parole premiered at Vanguard University in 2008, and the production was selected as a showcase for the KCACTF Region VIII festival. In 2014, the play made its New York City debut at Manhattan Repertory Theater and as part of the New York International Fringe Festival. Other recent productions include the West Coast premieres of at American Coast Theatre Company and Development at Vanguard University.

Note from the Playwright: 

In May 2001, Dr. Elizabeth Dermody Leonard approached me about the possibility of turning her research on battered women who kill into a stage play. It took me a year to do the requisite research and an additional six months to write the play itself. In doing so, I changed the names of the women involved, created characters who are composites, and recontextualized the dialogue and research to fit the parameters of the stage. In March 2003, “Life Without Parole” was staged for the first time as part of Vanguard University’s Domestic Violence Awareness Seminar. Since then, it has been staged all over the country and in Canada; at battered women’s shelters, at conferences, in numerous theatres, and, most importantly, three times at the California Institution for Women at Chino, in front of the very women whose words inspired its creation. The play has also been profiled on NPR, selected as a finalist for the 2009 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, and included in the recent documentary, “Thespians,” produced by Tiger Lily Media. My adaptation of the play received the Gold Medal Award at Worldfest-Houston Film Festival in 2005. The play continues to build momentum, but, ultimately, it has stayed true to my original three-fold goal: to give voice to the “Convicted Survivors” that Dr. Leonard represents in her work; to give voice to those women who do not live through the last violent assault; and to provide a red flag for those currently faced with the silent epidemic of domestic abuse.


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