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“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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Your donation to Shakespeare in Prison makes all of this possible:

“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.”

"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.”

“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 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.”

"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.”

“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.”

“[Macbeth] has no counsel. You need counseling – people who will motivate and calm you down and convince you not to do that crazy thing. You’ve gotta have counsel. I don’t do that stuff because I have you guys.”

The program showed me that I am more than just a felon or a MDOC prison number and it also showed me that there are people in the world who actually care about people regardless of who they are or what circumstance they find themselves in, and to a prisoner who has nothing to return to after a stint in the MDOC that feeling and ability to relate to unknown people, places, or situations can be the difference between returning to prison or leading positive lives upon release.”

“Shakespeare keeps me out of trouble. You learn how to care about yourself and other people.”

“This has helped me understand community and government in a way I didn’t know. Everybody has their part. And it can be that way when we go home, too.”

“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.”

“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?”

“That hope for a better future and a better life, in and of itself, is the single most amazing thing that I could have ever hoped for as more than just a prisoner, but as a human being who didn’t have reason to have any hope at all.”

“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. ”

“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.”

"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."

“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.”

“This whole process reminds me of the best part of who I used to be before I came to prison. The darkness can overwhelm… This is my light. Not only can I be that girl again, but I can be better. Whatever we’re feeling, it’s okay here.”

“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.’

“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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