We watched the documentary Shakespeare Behind Bars today. The women clearly enjoyed it, commenting as we watched on things they found remarkable or with which they identified. After we finished the movie, we reflected on it with the time we had left. One participant said she found that the process was spiritual, powerful and therapeutic. She thought it was amazing how working with Shakespeare helped the inmates in the documentary “draw pieces together in their lives.” It made this participant think about what her own process “to remorse” has been and will continue to be
Another participant said she thought the group was a great opportunity for the inmates to express their emotions. She could relate to them and remarked on how interesting it was that they formed a sort of family in the group.
One of the women who has been in the group since February told everyone that our group definitely accomplished the things the second participant talked about – an emotional outlet and a feeling of unity. Another said that it seemed like the feeling of unity seemed to be what gave the men the ability to express themselves in ways they could never do elsewhere in prison or possibly even at home.
Another participant said she appreciated that the group was a “platform for completion” – allowing inmates to accomplish a goal for perhaps the first time in their lives. She thought the parallels the men drew between themselves and their characters were interesting, and she also observed that their work gave them a sense of importance. Another chimed in that it wasn’t just importance but self worth, accomplishment and pride.
All of the women expressed that they are even more excited now about their own process, having seen what it can be like in the Shakespeare Behind Bars program. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to watch the film with them. I encouraged them to continue to reflect, and to write down their thoughts if they want to, and we will talk more and do more Shakespeare next time we meet.