Shakespeare Behind Bars
Hank Rogerson, Jilann Spitzmiller, Shana Hagan, Victor Livingston, James Wesley Stemple
Takes Shakespeare's final play, The Tempest, with its violent seas, windswept island, crucial connection to nature, and underlying theme of forgiveness, and bring it into a prison, the ultimate venue of confinement. The result is an extra-ordinary story about the creative process and the power of art to heal and redeem -- in a place where the very act of participation in theatre is a human triumph and a means of personal liberation.
In Hank Rogerson's revelatory trip into and around this prison production, we embark on a year-long journey with the Shakespeare Behind Bars theatre troupe. Led by Shakespearean volunteer director Curt Tofteland, whose innovative work with Luther Luckett inmates began in the mid-1990s, the prisoners cast themselves in roles reflecting their personal history and fate. Their individual stories, including information about their heinous crimes, are interwoven with the plot of The Tempest as the inmates delve deeply into the characters they portray while confronting their personal demons.
Shakespeare Behind Bars is a tremendously moving film, where the protagonists are not merely defined by their crimes but are afforded dignity and a fresh chance to look truth in the eye, and embrace it.