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USD Theatres Coyote on a Fence debates capital punishment

VERMILLION, S.D. -- The University of South Dakota Department of Theatre presents Bruce Graham’s compelling drama “Coyote on a Fence,” March 21- 25 in the Arena Theatre of the Warren M. Lee Center for the Fine Arts. “Coyote on a Fence” centers on two death row inmates who approach their time in prison in vastly divergent ways.

Bobby Reyburn, played by Brian Muldoon of Sioux Falls, S.D., committed a racially motivated crime and John Brennan, played by Iah Kinley of Crown Point, Ind., was convicted of killing a drug dealer. The two prisoners are in adjoining cells on death row and while Bobby freely admits his guilt and is ready to die, John insists on his innocence and fights to live. Bobby is the product of a dysfunctional upbringing and limited mental ability; John is educated and uses his talents as a writer to both delay his impending execution and to help his fellow prisoners through his writings in the “Death Row Advocate.” The convicts are more dimensional than their crimes and the legal system make them out to be, just as the New York Times reporter Sam Fried, played by Marcus Langseth of South Sioux City, Neb., has contradictory reasons for wanting to do a story on death row or why Shawna, played by Erin Gallion of Salina, Kan., the seemingly pleasant prison guard volunteers to work executions. Audiences, like the characters in the play, will wrestle with their conscience as they contemplate the nature of the death penalty and its dehumanizing effect on death row inmates.

“Coyote on a Fence,”which contains strong language, is at 7:30 p.m. on March 21-24 and at 2 p.m. on March 25 in the Arena Theatre on the USD campus. Tickets ($15 Adults, $9 K-12 and non-USD students, and $4 USD students with ID) can be reserved between noon and 5 p.m. starting March 16 by calling the USD Theatre Box Office at (605) 677-5400 or online at

A photo of Erin Gallion, Chris Johnson and Marcus Langseth in a scene from "Coyote on a Fence" is available for download at


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

This material is available in an alternate format upon request. Please contact University Relations at 605-677-5759. If you are a person with a disability and need a special accommodation to fully participate in any university activity or event, please contact Disability Services at 605-677-6389 as soon as possible, but no later than 48 hours before the event, so that appropriate arrangements may be made.


Hanna DeLange
USD News