Shakespeare in Prisons Conference, Nov. 15-16, 2013

Razor Wire Women

Shakespeare at Notre Dame is pleased to announce the Shakespeare in Prisons Conference hosted by the University of Notre Dame on Friday, November 15, and Saturday, November 16, 2013.

Featuring keynote addresses and film screenings by Curt Tofteland (founding director of Shakespeare Behind Bars) and Tom Magill (founder of the Educational Shakespeare Center and director of the Irish film Mickey B ), the conference aims to bring together artists and educators engaged in transformational arts programs using Shakespeare in prisons across the USA (and the world) for an exploration and study of the effects such programming has on prison populations. The goal is to promote a collaborative learning forum where participants will be exposed to a diverse array of programs that all strive for a common result: the habilitation of the inmate’s mind, heart, body, and spirit.

Departing from the traditional academic conference structure, the Shakespeare in Prisons conference will focus on the craft and experiences of the…

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Upcoming Event: Beyond Lines

‘Beyond Lines’ features art work produced by incarcerated artists at Danville Correctional Center, a men’s medium-high security Illinois state prison. Students at the University of Illinois’ Education Justice Project organized the exhibition and produced the accompanying  catalogue. Their goals include challenging popular assumptions about ‘prison art’ and stereotypes about incarcerated people generally. They warmly invite you to attend the exhibit and related events, which will be shared with the men at the prison via video.

Following Events are:
September 25, 7pm: Prisons in the Media
October 9, 5pm: Danville Writers’ Symposium
October 23, 7pm: Screening of Shakespeare at Danville
October 30, 7pm: Families of the Incarcerated

The event is sponsered by the Education Justice Project (EJP) and B00ks to Prisoners.

Below you can view the Shakespeare performance from Danville with the EJP:

Happy Birthday Shakespeare!

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 author, prisoner, and participant of Rehabilitation Through the Arts,  Intelligent Allah. You can find Allah’s first book, Lickin’ License here.

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.]