By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –– The Freedom Theater is hosting an award winning stage play that provides a rarely seen look at the intricacies of life behind bars.

Titled, “12 x 9,” the critically acclaimed production is set in an overpopulated federal prison where a drug lord, devout Christian and sociopath are forced to live, love and cope behind bars.

“It’s about people, it’s about making mistakes, it’s about redemption, it’s about faith,” says Fred Thomas. The Philadelphia native wrote, directed and is starring in the stage play, which he says gives viewers a peek into the intricacies of prison life through the eyes of these very different characters.

“It’s also a love story,” he says, “because Townsend [the former drug lord] has five more years on his sentence and the love story is about him and his wife and about how this woman sacrificed her life to be with this man.”

Thomas says there are high moments, lots of laughs but there’s also moments of insight into the prison business, mass incarceration and the idea of rehabilitation by look at how the three men handle use their faith to get them through the days.

“Learning about why they are there, why they function the way that they do while they are in prison because it changes you,” says Thomas, who now lives in California. “It makes you a different person. And then you have to function while you get out. We touch on a little bit of everything.”

Fred Thomas  (credit: Cherri Gregg)

Fred Thomas
(credit: Cherri Gregg)

“12 x 9” runs at the Freedom Theater through Sunday.

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