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SBB 2014 Much Ado About Nothing

2014 Cast & Crew of Much Ado About Nothing, Director Matt Wallace, Facilitator Carol Stewart, Staff Sponsor Jerry Alter and the Journeymen at Luther at Luckett Correctional Complex.

View photos from past LLCC performances in our SBB Photo Gallery

Now in its 20th year, Shakespeare Behind Bars at the Luther Luckett Correctional Complex is the oldest North American Shakespeare program contained within the walls of a medium security adult male prison performing exclusively the works of William Shakespeare. The program, founded by Curt L. Tofteland, is also the subject of the award-winning documentary Shakespeare Behind Bars which received its World Premiere at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. Artistic Director Matt Wallace has been Facilitator and Director of the Luther Luckett Correctional Complex SBB program since 2008.

For the 2014-2015 season the Shakespeare Behind Bars ensemble is exploring and preparing Shakespeare’s Pericles.  Public performances will be in May 11-18, 2015. The reservation request process and security clearance process will begin in April. Originally, there were eleven inmates in the program. Today, the group fluctuates between 20 to 30 members. Since its inception in 1995, over 110 inmates have completed at least one year in the program, and 61 members are currently back in society. The majority of the SBB members have achieved at least a GED. All members have received at least one technical degree and/or an Associate of Arts and/or Science degree from Jefferson Community College. Many of the members have several combinations of degrees. The national recidivism average is 67%; the Kentucky recidivism rate is 29.5%; and the Shakespeare Behind Bars program at the Luther Luckett Correctional Complex has a current recidivism rate of 6.1%.

line Audience Comments from Shakespeare Behind Bars RICHARD III – June 2013 IMG_2384a

“I was there last night, and I am continually struck by how these guys really inhabit the words of Shakespeare. I’m a Shakespeare professor, and I’m convinced that these guys understand RICHARD III better than any student I’ve ever had.”

“Fantastic Show! The best Shakespeare I have ever seen!”

“My husband and I saw the production Monday night, and we were absolutely stunned with admiration for your actors, your direction, and the whole concept of SBB.  We’ve been telling people about it ever since.  It was the coolest, most thought-provoking evening I’ve spent in a long time, and I can’t think of a more worthwhile cause to support!  Thanks for the experience.”

“Mr. Guenthner began a response with: “We don’t consider ourselves actors…”  Well, I know actors, and I know a lot of actors, and I KNOW that some of the finest in the region are in Luther Luckett’s SBB Company. I would be proud and lucky to work with any of these fine ACTORS, anywhere.  We may have all been gathered in that theatre through the most convoluted universal design ever, branches of which grew out of great pain and misfortune, but I am extremely grateful to have received the gift of this production, created by this particular group of talented, committed, fearless artists.   Congratulations to their director, Matt Wallace, congratulations to the production staff, congratulations to the musicians.  Most of all, from an actor–congratulations to the ACTORS in this amazing troupe.”

“We are still raving about the performance, and, looking forward to next year. What a magnificent product this year, I am fast becoming a Shakespeare fan!!!”

“Every year I think you cannot possibly raise the bar higher – but you do. I spend each year wondering how you will top yourself next year!  I have to say that I am not a big fan of tragedies – but you have now made me a big fan of Shakespeare Behind Bars’ interpretations of Shakespeare’s tragedies! I have (in my past life of theatre) spent many an evening watching “professional” Shakespeare and have never enjoyed those performances anywhere near to the degree I have enjoyed your performances.  From Richard, on through the cast, each member transformed those classic words into living matter; from the king we love to hate (but cannot help but be charmed by as often as horrified by) to the victims of his greed who we grieve for – it was all fantastic!  I look forward to next year’s offering – thank goodness a comedy! Humor is as important a therapy for all of us as any other soul searching, so I will now spend this year wondering how you will outdo yourselves again!  Well done, bravo! Thank you!”

“I want you to know what a joy and a pleasure it was to attend last night’s performance of Romeo and Juliet at LLCC.  This was my second year to attend and I am in awe of the work that you do with the members of the group and of the work that they do to perfect their roles and to improve their lives within the prison setting.  Bravo to you for your work with the SBB program.  The play was excellent.”

lineAudience Comments from Shakespeare Behind Bars ROMEO AND JULIET – June 2012 LLCC2

“Blown away as always to our annual homage to Shakespeare Behind Bars at Luther Luckett Correctional Complex. An amazingly poignant production of Romeo and Juliet left us in tears and humbled by the opportunity to support these guys in their work…  it is a privilege to be connected with you and the guys at LLCC.  Few things in life are this meaningful.”

“This is one of the most important ‘charities’ I know of and we’re both proud to be able to help them in our way.”

“Myth: People never change. Oh, but they do. Drastically and permanently. This occurred to me when I watched the Shakespeare Behind Bars production of Romeo and Juliet at Luther Luckett Prison last night. These men cannot re-do the day that sealed their fate, but they have become better men while they are serving their time. I admire that.”

“Congratulations, you guys! Your performance was so moving and conveyed such truth. I have been bragging on all of you to those I have seen since the performance! It was SO worth the drive from IN to see it! Keep up the great work, and I hope I get to come to see RICHARD III next year!”

lineAudience Comments from Shakespeare Behind Bars THE MERCHANT OF VENICE – June 2011 LLCC1

“I just got home from your performance tonight.  I’m speechless – so inspired by the entire experience.  I should have introduced myself and wanted to express gratitude to the cast/crew, but I was holding back some tears from my awesome experience.  What a transformational experience for all!!!”

“I attended the performance on Tuesday night and I would just like to say thank you! I felt incredibly inspired and moved by the men and their performances as individuals and as a group. What an amazing program you have here–I can’t wait to see it grow and attend performances for many years to come. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

“Great performance tonight! I really enjoyed the experience and am thankful to the actors for their insight, openness and willingness to share. There were several messages that resonated with me as a human being and a therapist. This experience will help me to help others in a more inspired way. Thank you to everyone involved! “

“…gratitude we felt and how impressed we were with their performance and all that SBB has done and continues to do to restore hope and healing to people in prison.”

“Simply brilliant! This performance blew away all of my expectations. Never did I expect such a powerful and detailed performance. It was obvious that the gentleman have passion for their art. Well done!”

“My second year to attend SBB and I’m so glad I did. The show was amazing and the guys did an outstanding job once again. It’s great seeing the difference this program makes in an inmates life!! Hats off to Matt, all the inmates for their efforts and the staff that makes this program possible.”

“I had the great fortune to be able to attend the June 11 performance of The Merchant of Venice at LLCC. Last year was my first experience with a live performance of SBB and I was so moved to tears that I could hardly speak after the performance. This year I had the fortitude to express my gratitude! SBB is an excellent example of real… resilience, restoration, and strengths-based intervention that makes a remarkable contribution to those inside and outside of the performances. Thank you for the opportunity to see your work first hand, to bring SBB to my kids at school through the video and personal experience, and thank you for making a difference in many lives.”
line Audience member blogs:

http://feastoflanguages.com/?p=410 http://melaniegsnyder.com/comments/secret_beauty_-_shakespeare_behind_bars/