Coming Soon from Shakespeare in Prison

SIP’s Critical Edition of RICHARD III: A Groundbreaking New Book

For the past 300 years, there has been ongoing dialogue—and many critical editions—about the works of William Shakespeare. This discourse, though, has been largely confined to the upper echelons of society; as such, Shakespeare’s work has been made to feel distant and inaccessible for most people.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

RICHARD III—IN PRISON: A Critical Edition will be the first in what we hope will be a series of critical editions of Shakespeare’s plays, edited and annotated by SIP members old and new. This book will consist of the 2016-17 women’s ensemble’s 90-minute edit of the text, analytical footnotes in their words, and essays by those who worked on the play and are now returned citizens. It will be presented in a format no less dignified than the venerated Arden, Cambridge, and Norton critical editions. As such, it will disrupt a firmly entrenched, centuries-old culture that has reinforced hierarchies of race, class, and education.

Proof of concept: sample page.

Beginning in summer of 2019, we will develop the book’s content and format. SIP staff will collaborate with formerly incarcerated ensemble members to facilitate individual and group analysis of the play, just as we did in prison. And we will extensively document the process—largely with video—providing ongoing public access to our unique approach.

Ownership of Shakespeare is reserved for no one—in bringing their own stories to bear on this material, SIP’s ensemble members will provide (in Othello’s words) “the ocular proof.” Overlooked and ignored by so many, their insight demands to be shared with a wide audience—because Shakespeare is for everyone, as our ensembles have proven again and again.

By asserting that their stories and perspectives are as significant as any other, this project will take a battering ram to the barriers people perceive, not only to Shakespeare, but between themselves and humanity.

Chapter One: I Still Agree With Myself Back Then.

We are extensively documenting the process as we go—mostly with video—providing ongoing public access to our unique approach.

We’ll post it all here, so make sure to check back often!

This project is made possible in part by a grant from Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or Michigan Humanities Council.

We are enormously grateful for their support.