In honor of Shakespeare’s birthday, why not watch a few (okay, a little more than a few, I couldn’t choose the best one!) videos about Shakespeare in prison. Videos below focus primarily on men, but here is where you can view Detroit area’s women behind bars’ experience with Shakespeare. In 2005, there was a documentary made on this subject called Shakespeare Behind Bars and a book in 2001: Trousnstine, Jean. Shakespeare Behind Bars: The Power of Drama in a Women’s Prison. St. Martin’s Press: New York, 2001.
The video below focuses on a program from Indiana Statue University. One of the participants has been in solitary confinement for 9 years and has been in the Shakespeare program for 7. My favorite piece about this, is that participants not only learn how to interpret Shakespeare’s plays so they are comprehensible, but rewrite the plays. The rewritten plays by the participants are then the version that is performed. One participant said that before joining the program, he was “on the border of loosing [his] mind.”
This next video is a promotional video for Kentucky’s Shakespeare Behind Bars Program is filled with pictures, statistics, and testimony. A couple key testimonials are: “SBB is about family and finding yourself. Without this support system I wouldn’t be who I am today.” and “By playing someone else, I have learned to be myself.” The most powerful statistic is at the end on recidivism; the national rate is 67%, Kentucky’s is 29.5%, and program’s is 6%.
Below is an additional testimony for RTA from participant Shariza Terrell who makes connections between himself and other prisoners with characters from Shakespeare.
This last video is from the Shakespeare Prison Project that is associated with the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
[For photo credit, follow link in the photo.]