Spring of 1992: Curt L. Tofteland partnered with Dr. Curtis Bergstrand, chair of the Sociology Department at Bellarmine University, to bring the works of William Shakespeare into Dr. Bergstrand’s Books Behind Bars program (created in 1991).
July of 1992: Dr. Bergstrand, Dr. Julie Barto, psychologist at the Luther Luckett Correctional Complex, and two teachers from Western Middle School attended From the Page to the Stage: Teaching Shakespeare in the Classroom, Kentucky Shakespeare Festival’s one-week teacher training institute. The participants are trained to teach Shakespeare with performance-based techniques.
Spring of 1993: One play by William Shakespeare is incorporated into the structure of Books Behind Bars.
Spring of 1995: Shakespeare Behind Bars is created as a program housed within Luther Luckett Correctional Complex’s psychology department.
Autumn of 1998: Shakespeare Behind Bars became an independent program within the programs housed at the Luther Luckett Correctional Complex. Over the next 10 years, Founder Curt L. Tofteland goes on to produce and facilitate 10 seasons of Shakespeare Behind Bars, which include touring to other correctional institutions, incorporating the Dept. of Juvenile Justice, and the award-winning documentary.
Autumn of 2008: Curt L. Tofteland appointed Matt Wallace as the Artistic Director/Facilitator of the Shakespeare Behind Bars program at the Luther Luckett Correctional Complex. Curt retained his position of Founder and Producing Artistic Director. He remained the liaison between the LLCC warden and staff and the Shakespeare Behind Bars program.
Shakespeare Behind Bars has continued to be funded by personal contributions from individuals. In the 2009-2010 season/fiscal year through Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, the Shakespeare Behind Bars program raised the entire $10,782 annual budget for the program plus a $2,300 surplus which will be used for the future of the new not-for-profit corporation.
September of 2010: With a solid base of supporters and after working as a highly successful program under the umbrella of Kentucky Shakespeare Festival for 15 years, it became evident that the Shakespeare Behind Bars program was ready to stand and develop on its own. Curt L. Tofteland and Matt Wallace created the new not-for-profit corporation, Shakespeare Behind Bars, Inc. As a not-for-profit corporation independent of Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare Behind Bars, Inc. plans to continue the program’s mission while growing and expanding the vision and participants. Press Release
February 2011: Curt L. Tofteland founded the Shakespeare Behind Bars|Michigan circle at the Earnest C. Brooks Correctional Facility in Muskegon Heights, Michigan.
2012: Matt Wallace founded the Shakespeare Behind Bars Journeymen Program at Luther Luckett Correctional Complex in LaGrange, KY, a partnership with the Kentucky Department of Education and VSA Kentucky, the state organization on arts and disability.
2013: Matt Wallace founded the Shakespeare Behind Bars Journeymen Program at Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex in LaGrange, KY, a partnership with the Kentucky Department of Education and VSA Kentucky, the state organization on arts and disability.
SBB programming expands to 10 programs in 2 states.