How to Write a Letter

About Emancipated Stories

Emancipated Stories was founded by Quiara Alegría Hudes and her cousin Sean Ortiz during his incarceration as a way to bridge two populations: those inside and those outside. Authors behind bars submit one page of their life story. Volunteers on the outside respond with handwritten letters, acknowledging the author's humanity. Alone, each page says, "I am here." Together, all the pages say, "We are here."

The People on the Inside

The letters featured in Emancipated Stories are authored by Matthew Garcia, Sophia Alexandra, Robert E. Rigler, MWP, Larry N Stromberg, Jordan Brown, Frank Ross, James Allen Miller, Fong Lee, Benjamin Hodgdon, Chad Kawalke, and more. 

The Artists on the Outside

Yazmany Arboleda (Emancipated Stories' resident artist and designer) is a Colombian American artist based in New York City. An architect by training, Yazmany activates communities with large scale art projects that seek to build heart-felt connections that lead to meaningful relationships. He believes that art is a verb not a noun. Over the past two decades he has created public art projects with communities in India, Japan, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Afghanistan, Spain, Colombia and the United States. He has collaborated with Carnegie Hall, the Yale School of Management, and the United Nations. He is a co-founder of limeSHIFT, the Future Historical Society, Remember 2019, and the Artist As Citizen Conference. He is the first artist in residence for New York City's Civic Engagement Commission as well as the Community Arts Network. In 2022 Yazmany was appointed as the inaugural "People's Artist" for NYC.   

Quiara Alegría Hudes (Signature Premiere Writer-in-Residence, Emancipated Stories Co-Founder) is a West-Philly-born-and-bred story grrrl hailed for her work's exuberance and intellectual rigor. Her critically-acclaimed memoir My Broken Language was the Free Library's One Book One Philadelphia citywide read. Her Pulitzer Prize-winning play Water by the Spoonful and Pulitzer finalist play Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue explore the diasporican community in Philly and beyond. For the screen, Hudes adapted her Tony Award-winning musical In the Heights into a major motion picture and wrote Vivo, an animated Netflix feature, both with collaborator/composer Lin-Manuel Miranda. Her essays have appeared in the Washington Post, American Theater Magazine, The Nation, and The Cut 

In addition to co-founder Sean Ortiz, Emancipated Stories’ contributors include Oni Emmanuel, Ana Hicapié, May Treuhaft-Ali, Matt Cashion, Matt Maylon, and Eddie Torres.

About The Fortune Society

Founded in 1967, The Fortune Society's vision is to foster a world where those who are incarcerated or formerly incarcerated will thrive as positive, contributing members of society. We do this through a holistic, one-stop model of service provision. 

Our continuum of care, informed and implemented by professionals including those with cultural backgrounds and life experiences similar to those of our participants, helps ensure their success. We serve thousands of individuals annually via our expanding New York locations: our service center s in Long Island City, Queens and Morrisania, the Bronx, as well as several housing facilities throughout the City. Our program models are recognized both nationally and internationally for their quality and innovation. 



About SigSpace

SigSpace brings artistic programming to the Center's public spaces and sustains our lobby as a free public workspace and social hub for New York City artists. The public space within The Pershing Square Signature Center, SigSpace is a place where all are welcome to meet, collaborate, and engage with the theatre community.  

Upcoming Pop Up Events

With performances and activations, take part in letter-writing with Quiara herself among community and artists.

Kick Off

Wed 06.29.22 // 5–7PM

Featuring performances by Sean Carvajal, Luis Suave Gonzales, Felix Guzman, Daniel Kelly, Sean Ortiz, and David Zayas
Hosted by Quiara Alegría Hudes


Music Night

Wed 07.13.22 // 5–7PM

Featuring performance by Kenyatta Emanuel 
Hosted by Quiara Alegría Hudes


Family Day

Wed 07.17.22 // 12–2PM

Featuring performance by Sean Carvajal 
Moderated by Quiara Alegría Hudes 


Quiet Writing Time

Wed 07.20.22 // 5–7PM

Hosted by Quiara Alegría Hudes


Now At The Center