Written Word

  • Pensalfini, Rob, Prison Shakespeare: For These Deep Shames and Great Indignities, Palgrave Shakespeare Studies, 201
  • Herold, Niels, Prison Shakespeare and the Purpose of Performance, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014
  • Holland, Peter, editor, Shakespeare Survey 65, Prospero in Prison  by Curt L. Tofteland and Hal Cobb
  • Tofteland, Curt and Hal Cobb, Prospero in Prison, Shakespeare Survey Volume 65: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2012, pp. 429-444
  • Garber, Marjorie, Shakespeare and Modern Culture. New York: Pantheon Books, 2008.
  • Herold, Niels, “Movers and Losers in Shakespeare,” in Dionne, Craig and Parmita Kapadia, eds. Native Shakespeares, New York: Ashgate (2008): 153-169.
  • Scott-Douglass, Amy. Shakespeare Inside: The Bard Behind Bars. London, England: Continuum, 2007. xv, 2007.
  • Tofteland, Curt L., “‘The Keeper of the Keys,” in Shailor, Jonathan, ed.  Performing New Lives: Prison Theatre. London and Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, (2010): 213-230
  • Tofteland, Curt L., “As Performed: By Shakespeare Behind Bars at the Luther Luckett Correctional Complex in LaGrange, Kentucky, 2003,” in Shakespeare, William.  The Tempest.  Ed. Preiss.  Naperville, Illinois: Sourcebooks, Inc., 2008.
  • Tocci, Lawrence.  The Proscenium Cage: Critical Case Studies in U.S. Prison Theater Programs.  Youngstown, New York: Cambria Press, 2007.
  • Zelon, Helen. “The Shakespeare Redemption.” American Theatre 18.8 (2001): 32,35, 134-35.



Shakespeare Behind Bars, The Documentary

After Innocence

The award winning documentary tells the dramatic and compelling story of the exonerated – innocent men wrongfully imprisoned for decades and then released after DNA evidence proved their innocence. The film shows that the human toll of wrongful imprisonment can last far longer than the sentences served.

At Night I Fly

In At Night I Fly: Images from New Folsom, men at one of California’s most maximum security prisons let us see their world. This world is less about dangerous drama and more, as one of them describes, “about isolation. About closure of both the mind and the heart. And the spirit.”

This intimate documentary shows prisoners, most serving a life sentence, who refuse such closure and instead work to uncover and express themselves. Their primary tool is making art and the film takes us to New Folsom’s Arts in Corrections’ room, to prison poetry readings, gospel choirs, blues guitar on the yard, and to many more scenes of creation.

At Night I Fly shows the artistic and human journey these men take, as well as the need that fuels it, and the beauty and pain encountered along the way.

Cement, Steal, & Paint

A film about crime, restoration, and healing.

Dhamma Brothers

This award winning documentary tells a dramatic tale of human potential and transformation as it closely follows and documents the stories of the prison inmates at Donaldson Correctional Facility as they enter into this arduous and intensive program. This film has the power to dismantle stereotypes about men behind prison bars.

Girls on the Wall

A group of incarcerated teenage girls get a shot at redemption in a most unlikely form: a musical based on their lives. As they write and stage their play, the girls must re-live their crimes, reclaim their humanity, and take a first step toward breaking free of the prison system.

Mickey B

A feature adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, written and performed by serving prisoners inside Maghaberry Prison in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

The Exonerated

This made-for-television film dramatizes the stories of six people who had been wrongfully convicted of murder and other offenses, but were later exonerated and freed after serving varying years in prison. It was based on a successful stage play of the same name written by Erik Jensen and Jessica Blank.

What I Want My Words To Do To You

Award winning documentary offers an unprecedented look into the minds and hearts of the women inmates of New York’s Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. The film goes inside a writing workshop led by playwright and activist Eve Ensler, consisting of 15 women, most of whom were convicted of murder. Through a series of exercises and discussions, the women delve into their pasts and explore the nature of their crimes and the extent of their own culpability. The film documents both the wrenching personal journeys undertaken by the inmates to find the words that tell their own stories, and the power of those words to move the outside world.  The film culminates in an emotionally charged prison performance of the women’s writing by acclaimed actors Mary Alice, Glenn Close, Hazelle Goodman, Rosie Perez and Marisa Tomei.

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