(...) this is a thought-provoking collection that effectively rehearses some of the arguments for prison theatre in a straightforward, accessible and engaging manner - eloquently describing not only the practice, but also its rationale. -- Research in Drama Education (...) an engrossing collection... These inspiring narratives invite us behind bars in some of the most challenging environments for theatre workers, where creative solutions to obstacles to the work are constantly sought. -- Griffith University I picked up this book with mild interest. I quickly became gripped. It is directed at anyone interested in the role o the performing arts in criminal justice but I think it may have something valuable to say to many others working with people who, because of difficult circumstances, most often troubled beginnings, are struggling against the odds to make their way through life. -- Human Givens Journal When Jonathan Shailor started producing Shakespeare's plays in prisons in Wisconsin, the media lit up with debates about whether our imprisoned neighbours had the right to act, to play, and to explore new lives and roles by inhabiting the words and worlds of the stage's great authors. In this stunning collection of essays, some of the nation's leading prison educators and activists offer startling, ennobling, and definitive answers to those questions: Yes prisoners can and should act, Yes they need to play just like the rest of us, and Yes they benefit tremendously from exploring new modes of being by studying and then embodying the words of great playwrights... Performing New Lives offers remarkable case studies of how theatre-in-prison can reduce recidivism and violence by raising consciousness - all while having a great time on the stage. -- Stephen John Hartnett, Chair, Department of Communication, U.C. Denver, and editor of Challenging the Prison-Industrial Complex
About the Author
Jonathan Shailor is an Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. He has been facilitating the 'theatre of empowerment' in prisons, schools and other settings for over 15 years, and is the founder and director of The Shakespeare Prison Project, which originated at Racine Correctional Institution in 2004. Inmates who participate in the project engage in a nine-month process of training, rehearsal and reflection that culminates in multiple performances of a Shakespeare play before prison and public audiences.