Monday, November 19, 2012

HAMLET in a South African Prison

Taking “Shakespeare Inside” Out, Colette Gordon Talks to Tauriq Jenkins about Hamlet in prison and a “first for South African theater”

In December 2011, in a community hall in Cape Town, youth awaiting trial in Cape Town from Ottery Youth Care Centre performed their version of Hamlet—created, rehearsed, and performed inside the institution, for one time only before the public and outside incarcerated space.

Performances like this are rarely seen. Shakespeare prison projects tend to allow only fleeting glimpses of performance “inside.” Mickey B, which Ramona Wray wrote about in the fall 2011 special issue of Shakespeare Quarterly, with a follow-up interview with the director in the SQ Forum, is one exception. Through the Educational Shakespeare Company’s film project, prisoners at Belfast’s Maghaberry Prison were able to produce a full-length adaptation of Macbeth which was then screened for audiences outside the prison.

In the case of Hamlet, performed by incarcerated youth in Cape Town, actors and audience experienced a live performance that took both groups away from the prison and expectations of prison Shakespeare.

I interviewed the director, Tauriq Jenkins, about the role and importance of this work and about Shakespeare in a South African context of incarceration.
—Colette Gordon


Monday, November 12, 2012

NEW BOOK: Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard

Just as Larry Newton, one of the most notorious inmates at Indiana Federal Prison, was trying to break out of jail, Dr. Laura Bates was trying to break in. Now, a decade later, her Shakespeare in Shackles program has been lauded by academics and prison communities alike. In this profound illustration of the enduring lessons of Shakespeare through the ten-year relationship of Bates and Newton, an amazing testament to the power of literature emerges. But it's not just the prisoners who are transformed. It is a starkly engaging tale, one that will be embraced by anyone who has ever been changed by a book.

NEW BOOK: Working for Justice: A Handbook of Prison Education and Activism

This volume contains a wide range of work from leading prison activist-scholars who share a common vision of a society that does not depend on mass incarceration to solve its problems.