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The Facilitator's Role
Frannie Shepherd-Bates, Director and Lead Facilitator
Frannie is the founder, director, and lead facilitator of Shakespeare in Prison. Frannie began Shakespeare in Prison (under the auspices of Magenta Giraffe Theatre Company, which she led from 2008-2014) as its sole volunteer facilitator and administrator, personally handling every aspect of the program. Since those early days, Frannie has worked with the women’s ensemble to develop the structure, objectives, and pedagogy of the program; including expanding meetings from once to twice weekly, defining a season as nine months rather than leaving it open-ended, growing the team of passionate and knowledgeable facilitators, and developing a culture of warmth, openness, professionalism, and dedication. In 2015, the program moved from Magenta Giraffe Theatre Company as it dissolved to Detroit Public Theatre as it was founded.
In addition to her prison work, Frannie serves as Director of Programs for Detroit Public Theatre. She also served for several years as Director of Education and Development for Water Works Theatre Company. She has directed productions and staged readings for Detroit Public Theatre, Williamston Theatre, Tipping Point Theatre, Magenta Giraffe Theatre Company, Shakespeare in Detroit, Planet Ant Theatre, Jewish Ensemble Theatre, Water Works Theatre Company, the Abreact, Michigan Opera Theatre Children’s Chorus, and the Roeper School. She has taught, directed, and/or coached for Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit, Matrix Theatre Company, and Royal Oak High School.
Frannie has been recognized for her work as an artist and arts advocate by the Wilde Awards (Critics' Choice 2013; Best of the Bard 2015; Best Play nomination 2016), the Pulsar Awards (Best Play 2017), and CBS Detroit, and she accepted an Arts Achievement Award on behalf of MGT from WSU’s Department of Theatre and Dance. She has spoken about prison theatre at conferences such as Shakespeare in Prisons (2013), Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed (2017), Art X Detroit (2015), and Human Rights Through Education (University of Michigan, 2013). She has been featured numerous times in local, regional, national, and international media for her work in prisons and as an artist.
Kyle Grant, Assistant Director at WHV
Kyle studied acting and directing at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts in Liverpool, England, from 2002-2005, where he received his BA (honours) and was the 2005 recipient of the Paul McCartney Human Spirit Award for service to the community.
From there, he moved to New York City, where he directed and performed in several outdoor Shakespeare productions with the Red Door Theatre and PlayLab NYC. After moving back to Michigan, Kyle worked with Shakespeare in Detroit and taught theatre workshops for high school students with the Creative and Performing Arts program in Livonia and at Belleville High School. He has performed with Water Works Theatre Company in Royal Oak, and at the Marlene Boll Theatre in Detroit.
In 2015, Kyle completed a Master’s Degree in Education in the Urban Environment with the Detroit Teacher Project at the University of Michigan Flint. He then taught mathematics (and a Shakespeare class!) at Henry Ford High School in Detroit and is now teaching mathematics at Ypsilanti High School.
Kyle is passionate about his work with Shakespeare in Prison and is developing ways to assign research-based and data-driven evaluation techniques to the work we do.
Lauren Montgomery, Facilitator and Costume Coordinator at WHV
Lauren Montgomery studied acting at Wayne State University from 2003 to 2008, where she earned an Alumi Association award, and was an apprentice and understudy at The Purple Rose Theatre Company from 2008 to 2010. Lauren has designed costumes for many productions in Metro Detroit, earning a Wilde Award nomination for her work on Magenta Giraffe Theatre Company's 2013 production of Soul Mates.
From 2010-2012, Lauren served as a board member for Magenta Giraffe Theatre Company, helping organize fundraisers, monitoring yearly budgets, and attending monthly meetings regarding the functioning of the company. Lauren also worked with the children's theatre at Novi Civic Center from 2012-2015 as a stage manager and director. She is currently the wardrobe supervisor for Michigan Shakespeare Festival, where she has also designed Drivng Miss Daisy (2010), Much Ado About Nothing (2011), and Henry IV parts I and II (2015).
Lauren has been a SIP co-facilitator since 2013 and attends meetings once per week throughout each nine-month season. In addition to theatre work, she has an associate's degree in human services, summa cum laude, and is currently studying psychology. She has spent time with Team Wellness Center in Detroit, doing theatre with adults with severe mental illness and cognitive impairments. Lauren has also worked with LGBTQ youth with Affirmations in Ferndale.
Matthew Van Meter, Facilitator at WHV, Parnall, and YAA!
Matthew Van Meter is an author, journalist, and educator. A graduate of Middlebury College and the Columbia University School of the Arts, he is overjoyed to return for a third season with Shakespeare in Prison. His writing about criminal justice and other topics has appeared in The Atlantic, Longreads, The Awl, Forbes, Friends Journal, Russia Magazine, and others. Currently, he is writing a book about the riveting story behind Duncan v. Louisiana, the landmark Supreme Court case that enshrined the right to jury trial for all, due out in 2019 from Little, Brown.
In addition to his work as a writer, Matt has been involved for years in prisoner advocacy in Michigan, both with Shakespeare in Prison and the Michigan Criminal Justice Program of the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization. A lifelong Quaker, Matt has worked in various capacities with Quaker groups in Philadelphia.
Matt has taught high school and college English in the United States and Russia, and taking new, fresh looks at Shakespeare has always been at the heart of his pedagogy.
Patrick Hanley, Facilitator at Parnall and YAA!
Patrick Hanley is a very busy stage manager, fight choreographer, performer, and, now, facilitator with SIP. He earned his B.F.A. in Acting from Wayne State University, where he was on the Varsity fencing team for four years, including two as captain.
Patrick has worked with many Metro Detroit theatre companies, including Detroit Public Theatre, Matrix Theatre, Planet Ant Theatre, and Shakespeare in Detroit. He is Assistant Director for Water Works Theatre Company's education programs, for which he also teaches Shakespeare and stage combat. Credits also include years of working in educational theatre as fight choreographer, director, and producer.
Assata J. Haki, Student Facilitator at WHV (Wayne State University)
Assata graduated from Wayne State University with a BA in Theatre and completed an internship with Matrix Theatre Company education department as a Teaching Artist. She has taken her love for acting and the stage into classrooms, community organizations and programs. Assata has also created a way to embody all of her skills, experiences, gifts and talents into her company, Sista Love Outreach Services, incorporating theatre as one of the main vessels . In addition, Assata has founded and designed her own program, Empowerment Theatre, developed as a platform for the self empowerment of women and youth, using theatre as a tool.
Assata has performed in professional productions such as Perilous Times. She has developed much of her experience in community theatre, including productions of A Raisin in The Sun, My Three Angels, Scrooge, and Dearly Departed, to name a few. Assata has also had the opportunity to perform in productions of A Doll's House and The Vagina Monologues on Wayne State University's Detroit campus.
Assata’s most recent work comprises writing, directing, and producing a Nina Simone monologue for performance and directing two devised page-to-stage projects, both performed at Wayne State University the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The two productions were performed with youth from Old Redford Academy and senior citizen theatre students from Luella Hannan House Foundation. The performance showcases, through storytelling, accounts of the Rebellion of 1967.
Elizabeth Barnes, Student Facilitator at WHV (Albion College)
Elizabeth Barnes currently attends Albion College, where she will graduate with a BA in Political Science and a BA in Communication Studies in May 2018. She currently works in development at the Historic Bohm Theater in Albion, Michigan. Elizabeth is writing her senior thesis on the value of performance arts in prison.
Many, many thanks to past facilitators Alastar Dimitrie, Ciara Garrett, Bethany Hedden, Gaia Klotz, Dominique Lowell, Hannah Manela, Clearie McCarthy, Molly McGuire, Vanessa Sawson, and Jamie Weeder. Your passion, hard work, and dedication have been absolutely vital as the program has grown.
Thanks to Mary Elizabeth Anderson for facilitating our student program with Wayne State University, to Heather Martin at Youth Arts Alliance for her enthusiastic partnership, and thanks to Curt Tofteland of Shakespeare Behind Bars for the endless advice and inspiration.
Thanks to all of the staff at Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility, Parnall Correctional Facility, Michigan Department of Corrections, and the youth treatment centers where we work for the incredible amount of support that enables us to keep coming back.
And, most of all, thank you to all of the people—those who are still behind bars, and those who are not—who have made this program what it is. We've shown up with books, ideas, and enthusiasm. All of the truly hard work has been yours.
Thank you for the opportunity to work alongside you.