Hamlet : Giving back to society, from prison

Every now and again, a seemingly random idea or theme will emerge, in various forms, over a short period of time. I've written about it before. This week, it happened again. 

A few days ago, on my way to work, I listened to a podcast from This American Life and instantly had to tell a few Shakespearean fans about it. 

Take a few minutes (okay, more like 60) and listen to why Jack Hitt, A Shakespeare enthusiast and critic, who has seen Hamlet a dozen times, staring people like Kevin Kline, Diane Venora (three nights in a row), and "Ingmar Bergman's production done in Brooklyn, performed entirely in Swedish," say "this production was different. Because this is a play about a man pondering a violent crime and its consequences performed by violent criminals living out those consequences. After hanging out with this group of convicted actors for six months, I did discover something. I didn't know anything about Hamlet" (via).

Soon after, and about a month after teaching Hamlet for the first time, I came across this, from Great Big Story.

"According to the prison commissioner, 97% of the people locked up today will someday join us on the outside. Manuel is leaving for a halfway house in 48 hours. He could have been out weeks before but chose to stay in prison so he could finish the play. Hutch has a scheduled date for release. And a few more of the cast have parole board hearings coming up to decide whether they've changed enough and should be allowed to mingle with us on the outside. To that extent, this whole night, including the cast party, is just another rehearsal" (via). 

Jack Hitt said he didn't know anything about Hamlet until watching it performed live, in prison. I wonder if he also learned about those living behind bars, those whom society considers only outcasts, criminals, and non-contributors. I wonder if he knew nothing about them too, just like me.

You can read more about Teaching Shakespeare in a Maximum Security Prison or watch some behind the bars footage of prisoners performing Shakespeare


For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Real People  :  Do we not bleed!