He that wants money, means, and content
is without three good friends.
We need more friends!
A note from Frannie Shepherd-Bates
Director of Shakespeare in Prison
It's been an incredible year for SIP. We were extremely fortunate to receive enough funding to support our work at the women's and youth facilities, and to begin our extended pilot with men. It’s been SO exciting--and our wily bunch of donors has been a huge part of it!
We need to keep up our momentum as we launch our first full season with the men this summer — which will run alongside the women’s program that begins in the fall. Not to mention our new program for alumni who are no longer in prison: Shakespeare Reclaimed. More details on that to come...
We are $1,000 away from this season’s goal. We've been awarded our first grant for next season (hooray!), but our budget is $58,000. So we've got our work cut out for us.
This spring, I'm sweetening the deal.
As a perk of your donation, you may choose from several ways in which to get me to do something totally outrageous...
$1-9: My Bounty is as Boundless as the Sea
... the more you give to us, the more you'll have, for both are infinite. (You get to feel really, really great about yourself!)
$10-49: Shakespearean Shout Out
I will shout out to you via social media, and I will do it in a Shakespearean way. I make no promises to be sweet, although I will attempt to be witty.
$50-99: Shakespearean Shout Out via Awkward Video
I will shout out to you via social media, I will do it in a Shakespearean way, and I will do it on video. I promise only awkwardness, although wit is also likely.
$100-249: Your Own Personal Shakespeare (Basic)
I will choose a short selection from Shakespeare’s works and rewrite it, “Weird Al” style, for you. I will post it on social media in writing. Identical scansion guaranteed.
$250-499: Your Own Personal Shakespeare (Premium)
I will choose a short selection from Shakespeare’s works and rewrite it, “Weird Al” style, for you. I will post it on social media on video. Identical scansion guaranteed.
$500-$2,499: Your Own Personal Shakespeare (Ultimate)
YOU will choose a short selection from Shakespeare’s works, and I will rewrite it, “Weird Al” style, for you. I will post it on social media on video. AND I WILL WEAR A COSTUME. Identical scansion guaranteed.
$2,500 and up: A Pound of Flesh! (well, a little less…)
I will get (another) Shakespeare-related tattoo. Content and placement: my choice. Photographic evidence to be posted on social media. Tattoos are forever, and so, too, will be my gratitude.
+ What We Do
“Things I didn’t think were in me, I could see within myself and in the characters. Seeing things in different ways has helped me become a better woman. When I came here, I was really angry and didn’t care about anything but myself. Now I see things differently.”
Shakespeare in Prison empowers incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people to reconnect with their humanity and that of others; to reflect on their past, present, and future; and to gain the confidence, self-esteem, and crucial skills they need to heal and positively impact their communities.
+ Why We Do It
“Theatre can be used to break all sorts of barriers – race, gender, sexual orientation. Because when we come together, we don’t see any of that. All we see is an individual… Part of a team. It makes you look past the outside of a person and makes you see the inside of a person.”
We see people in their totality--not as defined by their worst mistakes. Incarcerated people are disconnected from their humanity and that of others. Labeled by their crimes and prison ID numbers, most have survived trauma and addiction. They have been disempowered; made to feel worthless, stupid; shells of who they once were or could have been. The SIP experience profoundly alters this. In our ensembles, people find comrades and a safe space; their ideas are valued; they improve communication; and they accomplish something truly radical.
+ How We Do It
“Don’t worry about the people who aren’t here – focus on who’s in the room. If the ensemble is strong, we’ll be all right.”
The ensemble at Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility works for nine months, performing at season’s end. Our pilot at Parnall Correctional Facility, a men’s prison in Jackson, has so far comprised several workshops following the women's model in a compressed time frame. Ensemble members, audiences, and prison staff are extremely excited and supportive. The men have proposed -- and will execute -- a 40-week program (staggered with the women’s) in the 2018-19 season.
+ How Do We Know It Works?
"This proves you can amount to anything. All you need is that hope – that ambition. Once you understand yourself, you can understand others and do better things out there.”
We have seen dramatic changes in ensemble members over the last six years at WHV, and we’ve seen them in as little as two weeks at Parnall. The cultures at these prisons also shifting. Staff and inmates alike see the positive impact of the program, and they look forward to our performances. Our ensemble members take on new challenges and commitments, and they alter the way in which they interact with others. They feel better, so they do better.
On the outside, several alumni are pursuing goals developed in SIP. We get glowing reports about reconnecting with family and having real jobs--things they never thought possible. Recidivism is only one measure of success, but the extremely low rate among our WHV alumni -- 5.7% -- is extremely encouraging.
We will have much more to report as we ease into Shakespeare Reclaimed, our program for former ensemble members on the outside, newly approved and supported by the Michigan Department of Corrections. Through sustained support, mentorship, resource-sharing, and professional development opportunities, we hope to aid our alumni in this next phase as people who’ve known them in a positive light in the last one.
“Prison didn’t help my self-esteem, but it did get me clean. After this, I have self-esteem, self-worth, accomplishment – I believe in myself on a lot of different levels. Hearing people say I’m good at something… I feel like I can live a different life and be the person I want to be. It seemed like a dream before – the last time I felt like that was when I was a kid... You guys are the rock. Cast members may change, but the group isn’t gonna disappear. People let you down, but Shakespeare don’t.”