The dysfunction of the nation's prison-industrial complex is increasingly in the public consciousness, thanks, in large part to a handful of news outlets and intrepid documentarians — and the literary and theatrical efforts of groups like the Los Angeles Poverty Department and InsideOut Writers, which work directly with current and former inmate populations to create powerful, dramatic pieces for the public. InsideOut partners with progressive performance company the Roots and Wings Projects in presenting Turn the Page: A Literary Force, a staged reading event based on the upcoming production of the play Tree of Fire by Jesse Bliss. Slated for a full production in January 2013 at Inner City Arts (an IndieGoGo funding page is active through Dec. 15), the play centers around a group of female inmates who are left behind in a prison that's being threatened by a huge, burning magnolia tree. The powerfully symbolic set-up induces some poetic and emotional soul-searching in the characters, as the story winds its way through the intensely personal, to the broader political and socioeconomic forces that have shaped these and tens of thousands of women's lives. This afternoon's reading features participants from the InsideOut program's work in the juvenile justice system, lending another layer of meaning to this already profound text and experience. The Last Bookstore, 453 S. Spring St., dwntwn.; Sun., Nov. 25, 2 p.m.; free. (213) 488-0599;

Sun., Nov. 25, 2 p.m., 2012

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