Lee Umstetter is a lifer at San Quentin prison and a multiple suicide attempter. Eventually, another prisoner suggests reading to find something better to do with his time. Lee takes that advice and finds himself inspired from what he reads to write a play about life in prison. He has auditions and assembles a cast from his fellow inmates. The play proves popular and it catches the attention of a female reporter who writes about it, creating publicity that allows for a parole for him. Once out, he later reassembles his cast when they come out to do the play professionally. However, they learn that the demands of the life outside are difficult to cope with for the newly released and their play needs to be changed in major ways while they struggle to make it succeed.