When I Come to Die is the story of two men who are on Death Row, and we have all tried to be as accurate as possible with the details. But we did have an interesting locational speedbump along the way.
The play was originally set in Texas, where the death penalty is fairly common. However, our playwright Nathan Louis Jackson and director Thomas Kail decided soon after the start of rehearsals that it might be better to move the play's setting to a state where the death penalty wasn't quite such a presence - since Texas seems to be almost the nexus state of the death penalty. But, there were certain requirements for the state that the play would be set in: it must be a death penalty state (duh), but it also must be a lethal injection state, and specifically one that had a three injection system (one injection to put the prisoner to sleep, one to paralyze him, and the last to stop his heart - some states have combined all three steps into one injection). The state must also have the execution chamber in the same place as the death row cells - it would be no good for our play, which relies on the two prisoners having their cells next to each other, to have one prisoner removed from his cell months before his execution. When all this was considered, Tommy and Nate chose the Indiana State Prison as the setting for the play, and we've tried to be careful with the details in order to be as authentic as we can.
This decision had some implications beyond just the script details - our actors, who all do extensive research, had focused on Texas. This wasn't a huge switch for most of them, but David Patrick Kelly, who plays James 'Roach' Teagle, asked if his character could still be from Texas, even though he was in an Indiana prison. Indiana State Prison has inmates from other states as well, so you'll still see some Texas on stage, whether you know it or not!
Anika Chapin is the Assistant Director for WHEN I COME TO DIE, and the author of bloggledygook.wordpress.com.