Every day in Huntsville, the sound of a distant prison horn can be heard echoing through the Sam Houston State campus, providing a subtle reminder of the many lives locked behind bars nearby.
As part of their television entity, the National Geographic Society will be shooting a documentary in Huntsville over Texas prisons in a partnership with the SHSU Theatre Department, who will recreate a death row cell for the filming.
According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website, there are approximately 350 offenders currently on death row in Texas with nine executions scheduled to be held through April 2009.
Penelope Hasekoester, the Department Chair of the Theatre Department, said National Geographic will be telling the stories of two or three death row inmates from their perspectives.
Though they won’t be involved in all aspects of filming, students and faculty within the department were called upon by the Society to research and build an imitation of a death row cell for the filming. The department and technical theater students will be working closely with National Geographic to build the set for the death row portion of the program.
“The Theatre Department is really excited to take part in this because we are going to be able to assist in building the set that will be used in this documentary,” Hasekoester said. “It is a great opportunity for us.”
However, students will not be performing in these scenes; National Geographic will be providing their own actors.
“Many people don’t think about the building of sets when they think of theatre, they mostly just think of acting,” Hasekoester said. “We are excited to be apart of this because we get to work with the people of National Geographic along with learning a little more about our community.”