Sunday, July 29, 2012

From the archives: The Shakespeare Project Presents OTHELLO

Photos (c) by Joe Crimmings

Prisoners in The Muddy Flower Theatre Troupe at Racine Correctional Institution in Wisconsin studied, rehearsed, and performed Othello by William Shakespeare, September 2005 - June 2006.

"It was stunning - Shakespeare as Shakespeare was meant to be - real, raw,  and electrifying. The actor who played the lead had a powerful on-stage presence and emoted real anguish. Iago was positively machiavellian. And Desdemona made me cry. It was by far the most memorable performance of  the play I have ever seen - truly transformative." ~ Jean Feraca, host of Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders, Wisconsin Public Radio

Friday, July 27, 2012

Curt Tofteland: Distinguished Visiting Lecturer at Centenary College

Centenary College (New Jersey) will be holding the first event in the 2012-2013 Distinguished Visiting Series Gates-Ferry Lecture on Sept. 5. Curt L. Tofteland will be showing his documentary “Shakespeare Behind Bars” at 6 p.m. in the Sitnik Theater at the David and Carol Lackland Center (715 Grand Ave., Hackettstown) with a refreshment break at 7:30 p.m. and then a separate talk back discussion with Tofteland about his professional experience at 8 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.

Tofteland is the founder of the internationally acclaimed Shakespeare Behind Bars (SBB) program. Shakespeare Behind Bars offers theatrical encounters with personal and social issues to the incarcerated, allowing them to develop life skills that will ensure their successful reintegration into society.

Now in its 18th year, Shakespeare Behind Bars is the oldest program of its kind in North America. SBB programming serves incarcerated adults and youth using the works of William Shakespeare. Philomath Films chronicled SBB in a documentary that premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and 40+ film festivals around the world. Tofteland has been invited to share his Shakespeare Behind Bars experience through screening the documentary, facilitating a post-screening audience talk-back, teaching master classes, and visiting classrooms at 33 colleges and universities (49 visits) across the United States.

“I am very pleased to serve as Gates-Ferry Distinguished Lecturer this fall and hope that my talks are informative and enlightening for those who are in attendance,” says Tofteland. “My work has made a difference in those who may have been uninspired. To make a positive impact on these individuals has been an experience that has been so rewarding.”

Tofteland will be teaching on the Centenary campus all week to students as part of his lectureship. The Spring Gates-Ferry lecturer will feature the former congresswoman Liz Holtzman.

by Warren Reporter,

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Rehabilitation Through The Arts Helps Teach Life Skills To Prisoners -

Click here for the TV news story

                 Frank Delila of NY1 interviews RTA member before "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom"

Katherine Vockins, RTA Founder:  "Our mission is to use the arts to transform the way people think and feel inside prison, so they are prepared to be better citizens on the inside, and also to come home, and be better citizens at home."

Aside from Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, the program has also produced August Wilson's Jitney, and Two Trains Running.

Vockins:  "New York State's population in prison is roughly 88% people of color:  35% Latino, 50% African American.  So using a playwright, and using stories about situations that deal with marginalized or minority people, is one of our goals. And also using plays that have some kind of transformative nature to it,where they can show cause and effect, where they show change, or reasons to change."

Click here to go to Rehabilitation Through the Arts website