Guest Artist of the Year


This past Saturday, we awarded Lauren Johnson the 2011 Conspire Theatre Guest Artist of the Year Award for her outstanding contributions to the Conspire Theatre blog. We have been so excited to have Lauren bring her writing, voice and experiences to the website and we’re really proud to have her as part of the team. When Lauren first approached me about volunteering for Conspire, it took me a little while to think about what she could do. Then I remembered how much she enjoyed writing in class and that at some point, she had been working on a novel. With everything else that I do, it can be hard to stay on top of the blog, so I decided to offer the position of guest blogger to Lauren. She accepted and I thought, “Great – I’ll get a few posts and get to keep in touch with her.” Several months … Continue reading


Inside Out Workshop THIS Saturday, 10 – noon


It’s that time again! Come to Servant Church at Asbury United Methodist Church this Saturday from 10 am – noon for our last community workshop of the year.  1605 E. 38 1/2 Street – at the corner of 38th 1/2 and Cherrywood. Free breakfast and child care, plus we’ll be exploring gifts – what do we have to offer ourselves and others this holiday season and throughout the rest of year? How can we take care of other people while still respecting our own needs? We would love to see you! Email or call 512-222-6798 if you have any questions. -Kat Craft

Nothing more than feelings

Conspire alum Lauren Johnson continues her series on incarceration, recovery and life in general. At one point during my addiction I became aware that I don’t like to feel emotions that are unpleasant. Nothing surprising about that I guess. I mean who really does? I was aware that doing meth, in combination with my crossword and scratch off bingo lottery tickets, was a way for me to avoid feeling those things. I vividly remember a summer after a very difficult break up. For months shortly after I woke up in the morning (I did usually sleep, just not more than a few hours), I would start a book of crossword puzzles that I would finish later that day. Some people were amazed at this. I simply told them what I had figured out – that if I am solving a crossword puzzle, it is almost impossible to think about anything … Continue reading


Lauren Johnson, Conspire alum, continues her series on incarceration, recovery and life in general Oprah Winfrey spoke of a vision board. The idea behind that vision board is that if you can imagine something specific then you are open to receive the possibility and opportunity as it comes your way. You can recognize it when it comes. She gave the example of buying a car. Once you buy a car, then every where you go, you begin to see that kind of car. It isn’t because that model became really popular after you purchased it, it is because now you recognize it when you see it. It is a concept that I can see play out in my life constantly. Visualization and planning can bring us closer to where and who we want to be. In only a few short weeks we will be ringing in a new year. This … Continue reading

For Colored Girls

The past two weeks we’ve been working with Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf and the powerful writing combined with our class’ incredible performance skills have made this a really inspiring time at the jail.  I brought in several different monologues from the play but the one that really resonated with most of the women is called “somebody almost walked off wid all my stuff”. now give me my stuff/ i see ya hidin my laugh/ & how i sit wif my legs open sometimes/ to give my crotch some sunlight/ & there goes my love my toes my chewed up finger nails/ niggah/ wif the curls in yr hair/ mr. louisiana hot link/ i want my stuff back/ my rhytums & my voice/ open my mouth/ & let me talk ya outta/ throwin my shit in the sewar/ this is some … Continue reading

The Not So Great Divide

Conspire alum Lauren Johnson continues her series on incarceration, recovery and life in general.  I have recently been getting into some intense and tiring conversations with a friend of mine. This is a guy who I use to buy drugs from, and I also used to babysit his two year old daughter. He was arrested in Williamson County for possession of methamphetamine and was sentenced to LIFE! A life sentence these days translates into 40 years. I know someone else that served 10 years on a murder charge – go figure! Part of the reason for such a large sentence is that they used a criminal history from 20 years prior to enhance the charge. I have been writing him for the last 9 years. In the beginning of his sentence he accepted Jesus into his life and you could see it in every letter. I enjoyed getting his letters … Continue reading


Lauren Johnson, Conspire alum, continues her series on addiction, incarceration and life in general. I think it is interesting to see parallels popping up in my life. I have recently noticed that I am building myself back into the person I was meant to be, one action at a time. I think that is also how I destroyed myself. I realize that at some point the lines that were drawn in the sand slowly faded with no trace of where they once were. Boundaries moved further and further back until they were all but gone. I know this happens to others as well. It can apply specifically to the drug use, but it tends to spill into all areas of life. Trying to control usage is actually like a step into the addiction. It is somewhat clear that the potential for a problem exists and so heading it off seems … Continue reading

Conspire Theatre: working with conviction

Have I ever mentioned how much I love the puns that writers think up when describing Conspire and our work?  Every time I think, “Surely, there are no more puns!” another one appears.  Thanks to the Austin Chronicle and Katherine Catmull for a really thorough, well-written article about us.  Kathy actually came to one of our classes, which gave her a much greater understanding of our work and in her own words, turned into a Conspire convert.  Excerpt below and  click here to read the full article.  So what are the classes about then? “I’m just big on playing games and joyfulness and laughter.” Uh, play, joyfulness, and laughter? What’s the point of that? A few hours of silly theatre games over the course of a few weeks – what good could that possibly do a woman in prison? That’s what I was thinking, anyway, until I visited that class. … Continue reading


Our class in maximum security is really coming together and feeling like a group, instead of a bunch of women shoved in a room together.  Under the advice of my therapist, who specializes in somatic therapy and recovery from trauma, I’ve been “grounding” the women at the beginning and end of each class.  I’m not an expert on this by any means, but grounding is something that has helped me immensely in processing and effectively handling my own emotions without freaking out or having a meltdown.  I used to have a very short fuse and could go from normal to rageful, panicked or extremely depressed in a few seconds.  I see this same kind of behavior from some of the women in my class – a careless word or action can escalate really fast into an intense conflict or into deep anger or sadness.  While it’s also helpful to figure … Continue reading