Mariposa & The Saint

Actor / Featured / Playwright / Producer

From Solitary Confinement, A Play Through Letters

In 2012, Mariposa was sentenced to fifteen months in solitary confinement. Through letters with longtime friend and current collaborator, Julia Steele Allen, Mariposa brings her experience to the stage.


  • Written by Sara (Mariposa) Fonseca & Julia Steele Allen
  • Directed by Noelle Ghoussaini
  • Featuring Ray Huth & Julia Steele Allen
  • Assistant Director/Stage Manager Michi Osato

The premiere performances of Mariposa & the Saint were held in New York City in December 2014, presented in collaboration with the NY Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement (CAIC).

The play is currently touring nationally. To inquire about booking:

Download the Mariposa & the Saint Outreach Kit [PDF]Join the conversation on Facebook


Julia and Mariposa met in 2005 when Julia was a volunteer with the California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP), and have stayed in contact ever since. In 2012 when Mariposa was given a 15-month SHU term (solitary confinement), they decided to work on a creative project together. When a person is sentenced to the SHU they lose all phone privileges, so the entire writing process would have to be through letters. Julia suggested they work on a play. Mariposa has never seen a play so their process began with Julia sending in plays for her to read and the two of them discussing the content, style, structure, and message. Next, Julia sent Mariposa writing prompts: “What is the story of your name?” “What is your first memory?” and Mariposa used these as a jumping off point, writing about whatever moved her. Julia transcribed Mariposa’s letters (including her letters from before she was in the SHU) and in June 2013, Julia assembled the first script, using only Mariposa’s words. From that time on, the script has been evolving, with Mariposa sending feedback and new ideas, and Julia getting input from audiences and collaborators, sending it in for Mariposa to consider and respond to.
2015-2016 National Tour
From September 2015 to June 2016, we toured Mariposa & the Saint around the country, focusing specifically on 8 states with active legislation or statewide campaigns to limit or end long-term solitary confinement. The states were: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Texas, Colorado, and California. We brought the play to colleges and universities, theaters and community organizations as well as religious congregations in each of the eight states, through our partnership with the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT). Each performance of the 45-minute play was followed by a 45-minute workshop/dialogue highlighting the work of the local or statewide organization we partnered with, ending with asking audience members to take a concrete action step together to further the campaign.

Upcoming Events

Mariposa & the Saint begins our 2017 tour with a performance at University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill on Thursday, March 2nd. We will follow this with a second Massachusetts tour in late March, and performances in the North Country of NY State in Sept 2017

Please see our calendar for more detailed information!

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On Friday, June 24, 2016, Mariposa & the Saint wrapped up the 2015-2016 National Tour with a show in Washington, DC.

As of Sept 2017, the team has performed the play over 70 times, since premiering in December 2014.

Please check our Facebook page for updates.

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Donate to the Project

If you would like to make a direct contribution to Mariposa & the Saint, please donate here:

If you would like to make a tax deductible contribution through our fiscal sponsor, please send checks to:

Great Small Works
Attn: Trudi Cohen
100 Jackson St.
Cambridge, MA 02140

IMPORTANT: Please write “Mariposa & the Saint” in the memo line.

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Responses from the audience

Scott Paltrowitz

/ Correctional Association of NY and Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement (CAIC)

“I am awed and humbled by the incredibly moving performance of Mariposa & the Saint. Julia Steele Allen’s representation of Mariposa’s letters vividly portrays the devastation inflicted by incarceration and solitary confinement. The sadness, anger, love, and inspiration the play engenders will help grow a movement to end the torture of solitary confinement, challenge mass incarceration, and create more humane and effective alternatives.”

Rev. Laura Markle Downton

Director of U.S. Prisons Policy & Program / National Religious Campaign Against Torture

“Mariposa & the Saint is stunning - it speaks to the profound inhumanity and torture of solitary confinement as well as the incredible resilience of the human spirit. Mariposa’s story is one I now carry with me in a visceral and alive place. I believe the boldness with which it is shared in Julia’s performance, will open hearts to the moral necessity of ending the torture of solitary. This is a must-see, and a must-share. And it will stir a must-respond from all who encounter it.”

Johnny Perez

“I was greatly moved by Mariposa & The Saint. The way in which the character struggles to not only cope with an unbearable reality, but her own inner struggles to understand such a dehumanizing environment, is something every person should see. As someone who spent thirteen years incarcerated and three of those years in solitary confinement, I highly recommend it.”

Dan Siegel

Audience member at Corrections Summit in Sacramento

"I saw the play last night at the Ninth Circuit Conference. Best I have seen on solitary. I have met with dozens of prisoners at Pelican Bay, Tehachapi and San Quentin for the Ashker and Lopez cases. Julia does a great job of capturing the intensity, ambiguity, and determination of many of my clients."

Laurel Sebastian

"Absolutely phenomenal show. I never expected to be so moved, outraged, educated and empowered. Thank you."

Erin Saari

"Brutal and haunting. Thank you so much. Fantastic work."