Developed over a life-time of building successful artistic circles of community within the professional, as well as educational theatre settings, Shakespeare Behind Bars founder, Curt L. Tofteland, has honed his varied experiences into a technique he titles a Restorative Circle of Reconciliation (RCR). By constructing a set of ‘values’ shared by the circle members rather than ‘rules’ imposed by a leader, Curt creates circles of trust which allow participants to plumb the deepest depths of their life experience to recover what it means to be a human being.
Each day, circle members consciously choose to live into life’s four questions . . .
1. Who am I?
2. What do I love?
3. How will I live my life knowing I will die?
4. What is my gift to human-kind?
Applying the healing process of a Restorative Circle of Reconciliation within the correctional world of incarceration, Curt uses Art, Theatre, and the works of William Shakespeare, to immerse inmate offenders in the transformational journey of exploring who they were when they committed their crimes, to who they are in the present moment, to who they wish to become. Through this healing process of self-examination, inmate offenders evolve into agents of change not only for themselves but also as leaders within the communities they inhabit while incarcerated, as well as future communities they will inhabit upon their release from prison.
The Journeymen is a program for 18-21 year-olds incarcerated in the Department of Corrections. Inmates explore the goals and values of the SBB program as a member of a positive, supportive community.
Inmates in the general population of the E.C. Brooks yard requested the opportunity to participate in the Shakespeare Behind Bars program but could not because the number of participants in the SBB|MI circles are capped at thirty. To serve the need, one of the participants in the SBB|MI circle had the idea to create the Shakespeare in the Housing Unit program. Permission was granted by the prison administration. The SBB|MI Shakespeare in the Housing Unit program embraces the same mission, vision, and core values of Shakespeare Behind Bars.