Shakespeare in Prison
The Magenta Giraffe Theatre Company acts to eliminate apathy, violence, prejudice and barriers to education through theatre productions, projects and programs; and further acts to reestablish and expand Detroit’s theatre district.
Magenta Giraffe Theatre Company's Shakespeare in Prison program is conducted at Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti, Michigan, beginning in February 2012 and running continuously thereafter. This program, modeled on other successful programs of its kind, empowers inmates through theatre exercises and Shakespearean text to think creatively, re-examine decisions they’ve made, become more in touch with their emotions, and develop crucial life skills to be used both in and out of prison.
Inmates who volunteer for the Shakespeare in Prison program work with Shakespearean monologues and scenes, experiencing the empowerment and satisfaction derived from working with this material. There is an idea that only “great actors” can do Shakespeare “right,” and that is absolutely false. Anyone can perform Shakespeare, and everyone has the right to create art as part of being a self-aware and individual human being. Participants will also be given the option of staging a full play by Shakespeare.
Similar programs have proven to be extremely effective in empowering inmates to think creatively, re-examine decisions they’ve made, get more in touch with their emotions, and develop life skills such as confidence in creative thinking and speaking in front of an audience. These programs are also very effective in building self-esteem in the prisoners, and all of these effects have a direct impact on prisoners’ ability to become constructive members of society when they are released, or, if they are not released, excellent citizens and role models in the facility. Magenta Giraffe’s program is modeled after Shakespeare Behind Bars, the oldest program of its kind in North America. Participants in Shakespeare Behind Bars have had only a 7% recidivism rate, as contrasted with the national rate of 67%, and Magenta Giraffe hopes to continue that trend with its own program.
Shakespeare in Prison has the potential for real change in the community, helping women achieve a sense of self that can help them with their families, their community, and their personal future.
The Shakespeare in Prison blog may be found at http://shakespeareinprisonmgt.wordpress.com/
Funded by Ann Arbor, MI (June 2012)