On February 7, 2012, Shakespeare in Prison consisted of one volunteer and a 10-woman ensemble at Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility. Since then, 232 incarcerated adults have been part of SIP's ensembles—68 of whom have been part of the men's program at Parnall Correctional Facility, established in July 2017. Our facilitation team now includes four people with years of experience and three apprentices who’ve made a two-year commitment to the program.
Your support is crucial as we continue to develop and expand this program, continuing our work with alumni in reentry through Shakespeare Reclaimed and, we hope, reaching more incarcerated people at more of Michigan's correctional facilities.
"You don’t know how many times I would’ve went to seg, could’ve went to seg—but I wouldn’t let myself. I took on such a big role because I knew it would give me the ambition and the motivation to move forward, because of you guys... This Shakespeare group has strengthened me. You guys are my comfort zone... Thank you all for not judging me. You don’t understand the impact you have on my life.”
“To me, my life is a series of experiences, about making memories. This program, prison or not, is one of the crowning trophies, Something I won't forget. Feels to me, like the foundation of positive change and improvement. It's a start to the man I've always wanted to be, the one everyone knew I'd become. Before Shakespeare in Prison, I had no idea how to get there. This program has shown me the way.”
“It felt good to say to my people, I’m proud of myself, because I’ve never been one to commit... This here is showing me that I just completed something. Completing the play allowed me to follow through... I gave it everything I had, and I came out stronger. Better. ”
“This is about so much more than Shakespeare. We need that honesty, trust, accountability and teamwork… It makes it feel so good to be here. Not to mention the Shakespeare. I can’t tell you how much I love Shakespeare. It’s so accurate to our experience here–he uses the perfect words. I’m so glad I found this.”
“What I came out seeing was this. Not everyone is willing to face their fears or right their wrongs. The true tragedy is not trying… So at some point you have to be willing to leave all those doubts backstage and step out and play the part you were made to play. You’re only defined by what you do today, and find a way to make it better tomorrow. As long as this program is coming into the prison I’ll be right there, and if they’ll have me I’ll be right there on the steps of the theater when I come home.”
“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."