Leah Joki

Leah is the author of Juilliard to Jail.  She is an actor, writer, director and has a long history with the California department of corrections. Under the auspices of arts in corrections she taught and/or performed in almost every state prison in California.  Her career in prison spans over two decades.  She was the first institutional artist facilitator at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison in Blythe and at the California state prison – Los Angeles County in Lancaster. She specializes in working in maximum security settings with adult men that have 25 – life sentences.  Her arts program at CSP-LAC (1994 – 2004) was profiled in The Los Angeles Times, American Theatre Magazine and the LA Weekly.  In 2018 – 2020 her no joke theater program produced a series of devised productions with inmates at the maximum-security prison in Lancaster; Fathers and Sons, Lost and Found and Family and Addiction. She recently directed The DUI Project, a pilot program for inmates in Warm Springs, MT who have up to 12 DUIs.  She is working with drive safe Missoula to continue the program.

In 2019 her full-length play, The Poppovichs, was selected for the first premiere project of the Montana playwrights network and was produced at the Downtown Dance Collective.  In recent years Ms. Joki has been seen as Margrethe in Copenhagen, Marty in Circle Mirror Transformation, Anna Jedlikova in Pentecost, perfect love in The Arabian Nights, Sylvia in End Days, and Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Her one-woman show Prison Boxing was produced by the Skylight Theater Company and was nominated by Stage Raw Theatre awards for the best solo performance in Los Angeles in 2015. Her writing credits include the plays; The Year of Baldwin, Sheets, The Poppovichs, Hairball; The Demystification of How One’s Life Turns to Crap, the Big Picture and her memoir Juilliard to Jail

Ms. Joki directed former inmate Dan McMullan’s play Blythe for the poetic justice project. She also created and directed PJP’s Time will Tell, which was performed for one year throughout the state of California.In 2023 she will direct William Schaeffer’s Finding my Voice, in Missoula as a premiere project for the Montana playwrights network. (Mr. Schaeffer was a student of hers in The DUI Project in Warm Springs.  This is his first play.)  She is a board member for the Montana Playwrights network and serves on the advisory council for the University of Montana College of the Arts and Media.  Ms. Joki is the first person from Montana to be accepted to the Juilliard Drama School. She also received a masters of fine arts in theatre from the University of Montana in 2013.