Earnest C. Brooks Correctional Facility

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On February 12, 2011, Curt L. Tofteland founded the Shakespeare Behind Bars/Michigan circle at the Earnest C. Brooks Correctional Facility in Muskegon Heights, Michigan.

The program embraces the mission, vision, and values of Shakespeare Behind Bars.

Kate Thomsen joined the team as the program’s first facilitator-in-training. Kate facilitated the SBB/MI circle solo from August to December 2012, while Curt was in Australia for four months on a Fulbright Senior Fellowship.

On November 17, 2011, the SBB/MI circle shared its first public performance with Warden Mary Berghuis, thirteen of her staff, and one outside visitor.

SBB|MI 2012 Matriculation

On February 16, 2012, after one year of participation, SBB|MI held its first annual matriculation ceremony by sharing monologues with Warden Mary Berghuis. Following the rite of passage, each of nine founding SBB|MI circle members was presented with a copy of the Collected Works of William Shakespeare and an SBB|MI t-shirt. The nine founding SBB|MI circle members matriculated to core membership and each sponsored a fellow inmate as an SBB|MI circle apprentice. The founding member is responsible for his apprentice and acts as a mentor/big brother to him.

After one year of participation, each of the nine founding SBB|MI members sponsored a fellow inmate as an SBB|MI program apprentice. The founding member is responsible for his apprentice and acts as a mentor/big brother to him. Currently, there are twenty-one active members.

In May, 2012, Joseph Byrd joined the team as the program’s second facilitator-in-training. Joseph joined Kate Thomsen to co-facilitate the SBB/MI circle while Curt was working in France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.

SBB|MI 2013 Matriculation

On February 12, 2013, the SBB/MI circle held its second annual matriculation ceremony by sharing monologues with Warden Mary Berghuis, members of her staff, and invited guests. Following the rite of passage, each of nine first-year SBB/MI circle apprentices was presented with a copy of the Collected Works of William Shakespeare and an SBB/MI t-shirt. The nine firstyear SBB/MI circle apprentices matriculated to core membership and each sponsored an apprentice of their own. The core member is responsible for his apprentice and acts as a mentor/big brother to him.

In February, 2013, Edward Hartline joined the team as the program’s third facilitator-in-training.

SBB|MI 2014 Matriculation

On February 13, 2014, the SBB|MI circle held its third matriculation ceremony by sharing monologues with Warden Mary Berghuis, members of her staff, and invited guests. Following the rite of passage, each of the ten second-year SBB|MI circle members received a copy of William Shakespeare and Others: Collaborative Plays, and an SBB|MI t-shirt. The ten second-year SBB|MI circle apprentices matriculated to core membership and each sponsored an apprentice of their own. The core member is responsible for his apprentice and acts as a mentor/big brother to him.

In February, 2014, Josh Ribbens joined the team as the program’s fourth facilitator-in-training.

SBB_MI Matriculation_2015_1

On February 26, 2015, the SBB|MI circle held its fourth matriculation ceremony by sharing monologues with Warden Mary Berghuis and invited guests. Following the rite of passage, each of the nine SBB|MI circle members received a copy of The Collected Works of William Shakespeare, an SBB|MI t-shirt, and an SBB wristband. The nine third-year SBB|MI circle apprentices matriculated to core membership and each has the ability to sponsor an apprentice of their own. The core member is responsible for his apprentice and acts as a mentor/big brother to him.

Visitor day is each Thursday from 12:30p to 3:45pm at the Earnest C. Brooks Correctional Facility in Muskegon Heights, Michigan.


 If you are interested in visiting the SBB|MI circle:

A background check and security clearance are required to visit this facility. To obtain clearance, please contact Curt L. Tofteland  and complete the ‘Visitor Reservations Request Form’ using the secure link below.

  Visitor Reservations Request Form

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