Ex-Cons Tell Real-Life Tales Crime and Punishment at ‘The Castle’


Here’s a different kind of Sunday matinee scene:

“The Castle,” a one-act play in which four ex-cons who served lengthy prison terms tell their own disturbing real-life tales of crime, punishment, and redemption opened at New World Stages this weekend. Redemption, the ex-inmates said, was made possible by The Fortune Society and the hulking old granite building on West 140th Street, known as “The Castle,” where it provides housing and services to 60 homeless former prisoners.

After the play, the cast asked if anyone had any questions. Producer Eric Krebs said he would be particularly interested to hear what a white-haired man sitting in the back row had to say, since his day job is commissioner of the state’s Department of Corrections. Brian Fischer stood up.

“We released 25,000 inmates last year,” said Fischer. “I could use 2,000 ‘Castles’.”

On stage, Casimiro Torres, 35, who had told of his 67 separate arrests and life as a drug-addled thief, squinted at Fischer and pointed. “You the warden at Sing Sing in 2003?” he asked.

The commissioner nodded.

“I never forget a face,” said Torres.