Shakespeare in Prison

Detroit Public Theatre‘s  Shakespeare in Prison program at Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti, Michigan, was founded in February 2012. The program is modeled after Shakespeare Behind Bars, the oldest program of its kind in North America. Curt L. Tofteland, founder and producing director of SBB, has been advising the project’s facilitator, Executive Artistic Director Frannie Shepherd-Bates.

shakespeare in prison – a story about going further

Oberlin Drama at Grafton

ODAG is dedicated to making significant theatre that can transform the lives of men seeking to redeem their pasts and remake their futures.

Through collaborative processes of rehearsal and performance, men enhance their humanity, expand their imaginative and expressive capacities, and develop trust and confidence. Inhabiting complex and articulate characters in a supportive ensemble fosters introspection, critical dialogue, and social values that inspire men to contribute to a more just society and to pursue
more considered lives.

Pioneer Playhouse

Voices Insider

Two Rivers Correctional Complex

Open Hearts Open Minds
Since 2007, Johnny Stallings, Executive Director of Open Hearts Open Minds has been helping prison inmates to make positive changes in their lives. In addition to weekly meaning-of-life dialogues with inmates, Open Hearts Open Minds recently completed a successful run of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Two Rivers prison, near Umatilla, Oregon. Filmmaker Bushra Azzouz is directing a feature length documentary film about the project: Midsummer Night’s Dream in Prison. The film will provide a window onto the moving stories of men making positive transformations in their lives.

KNDU TV, Yakima, WA: Inmates at a prison in Umatilla are performing Shakespeare, September 2010

San Quentin State Prison

Since 2004, Marin Shakespeare Company has offered weekly Shakespeare classes at San Quentin Prison, culminating in an annual performance. Since 2009, this program has been sponsored by the San Quentin Sate Prison Arts in Corrections Program through funding from the Marin Arts Council, Kalliopeia Foundation, and the William James Association Prisons Arts Project

Shakes in Blue
Shakespeare in Blue, a 37 minute documentary created by the Prison Bridges Project in association with Marin Shakespeare Company, explores the healing power of Shakespeare and original theater with men at San Quentin State Prison.  

See video clips and hear the inmate actors discuss how Shakespeare has changed their lives:
YOU TUBE: Shakespeare In San Quentin, Romeo & Juliet, June 2009
The California Report: Shakespeare at San Quentin, March 2008

The Shakespeare Prison Project (SPP)

Dr. Jonathan Shailor, Founder and Director
The Shakespeare Prison Project (SPP) is a volunteer-based prison education program which provides inmates with the opportunity to study, rehearse and perform Shakespeare’s plays over a nine-month period.  The project, which began in 2004, was inspired by the work of Agnes Wilcox (Prison Performing Arts) and Curt Tofteland (Shakespeare Behind Bars).  Plays produced thus far include King Lear, Othello, The Tempest, and Julius Caesar.   SPP is one initiative in The Theatre of Empowerment, an education program that uses storytelling, dialogue and performance for personal and social development in a variety of settings.

Shakespeare Under Lock and Key

In 2010, Gary Meitrott, Producing Artistic Director, began a Shakespeare Behind Bars sister program in the maximum security Great Meadows Correctional Facility in Comstock, NY.  When Great Meadow opened in 1911, it was the fourth prison for adult males constructed in the state of New York.

Contact: Gary Meitrott

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