“Shakespeare in Prison gives consistency year after year. Without consistency, you can fall into the wrong things. To be given the opportunity to learn more and more… It’s more than acting, it helps you deal with people.”
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"Doing this program with all the staff and people who put their love and time in this program has shown me what care and love is. See people do things in the kindness of their heart, not because they feel sorry for you. They do it because they love to help out and give love back to others who may have not felt loved before, or who has just forgotten what love’s supposed to feel like. Being in this program has made me feel so much alive, as if this was what I was made for. So I will get better at it. I will teach others when I’ve learned more. And I will always remember those people who spent their time coming here, doing what they love to do."
“The day I signed up for the Shakespeare in Prison program, it changed my life. It opened my world up to so much. In a world (i.e., prison) where you have so little and not much is given or expected of you, this has truly been a gift.”
“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.”
"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.”
“It made me see the light at the end of the tunnel – that this is just a season in my life… It made me think about what I want in life – things I hadn’t thought about in prison… Like, man, do I even know myself?”
“I was jumping up and down and yelling the whole time. When Mercutio died, I was like, ‘Oh no! He’s dead!... You guys were so awesome. I signed up for Shakespeare right away. That show changed my life.”
“It’s like skateboarding. I get life lessons. In skateboarding, you fall, and you get back up. But that takes a lot of hard work. Shakespeare in Prison is similar. Without Shakespeare, I wouldn’t be open to letting myself be viewed in an imperfect way. This gets me motivated for when I’ll be working – I have a sense of worth – I have something in me that may be untapped. I have to work hard and give it my best, and I get how to function on an everyday basis. I might make mistakes and not meet expectations, but it’s okay – It’s okay to fail.”
“I’m proud that we had the guts to do that… I prejudged. I didn’t think they would comprehend what we were doing and how hard we worked. But that lady at lunch was naming characters. I was floored. And officers stopped me and said they’d caught a few minutes and thought it was fantastic. There’s an officer that never spoke to me before – she seems frightened of us in the unit. But she came up to me, she got close to me and said, ‘That was great.’”
“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.”
“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.”
“When I played Juliet, that was a big part of who I was. And now, doing Shakespeare here… This helps take the burden off your shoulders. I can’t explain it… This helps you dig down inside yourself – and everybody says that. It’s not just me. Everyone in the group says that... You just don’t get that anywhere else.”
“Shakespeare keeps me out of trouble. You learn how to care about yourself and other people.”
"The diversity of this group - there’s no other way this group would’ve come together in here. I thought it would be horrible… But each of us clicked, and something sparked. The crowd saw the group’s diversity on the stage - they saw gangsters, drug dealers, Muslims, Christians, blacks, whites… They saw what we could do together. The crowd was with us ‘cause we was in it… It’s gonna transcend beyond this program… It’s a door opener that all inmates need to engage in. I got friends, and I definitely got comrades for life in Shakespeare Unchained.”
“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.”
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