Shakespeare Behind Bars and Courage

Even before I had heard about the Shakespeare Behind Bars program, I was astonished at how powerful Shakespeare’s words are. Shakespeare has inspired many people I personally know. The plays have entertained and delighted audiences for centuries. But in my wildest dreams I would have never believed how life-changing being a part of a Shakespeare production could be. Matt Wallace, Director of the program says this about the inmates: “Their courage and character continue to inspire me.”

Stephen R. who plays a Messenger in Shakespeare Behind Bar’s production of [amazon_link id=”1903436818″ target=”_blank” ]The Merchant of Venice[/amazon_link] says, “Shakespeare Behind Bars has given me the courage to take on the world. Since I’ve been in Shakespeare Behind Bars my self-esteem has shot way up and given me the courage to take college classes…” (Stephen R. told me after the performance that he was taking automotive classes toward earning an Associate’s Degree.)

Charles Y. who plays Tubal says, “Shakespeare Behind Bars to me equals the courage to act despite my fear, a newfound passion, an increase of my self-esteem, getting educated, raw development, creative thinking skills, and responsibility.”

Stephen M. who plays Jessica says, “Shakespeare has taught me how to deal with the things that I have done in the past, realize the mistakes that I have made, and the understanding of how to change my decision making process.”

All of the inmates who participated in the production truly inspire me; however, Stephen R. touched me the most. I am very proud of what he has accomplished and believe that he is representative of how far a person can go who surrounds himself with caring people and digs deep inside himself to be the best that he can be. “It takes a village” they say and Shakespeare Behind Bars provides a safe haven for everyone who sets inside the circle. Matt Wallace tells of a college student who visited rehearsal and later wrote, “Who would have guessed that a group of convicted felons could show me the actual definition of humanity right before my eyes?”

Anyone reading this owes it to himself or herself to experience Shakespeare Behind Bars. [amazon_link id=”1580495176″ target=”_blank” ]Romeo and Juliet[/amazon_link] is planned for the 2012 season.

Want to know more? Shakespeare Behind Bars, Inc. is a not-for-profit, tax-exempt, charitable organization, under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code. Donations are tax-deductible as provided by law. (Shakespeare Behind Bars’ cost to the government, institutions, participants, and taxpayers is $0.00! Consider making a donation today to help them continue this important work.)

Check out the Shakespeare Behind Bars web site or their Facebook page which have fabulous photographs of The Merchant of Venice and previous productions.


Attention Students: to cite this web article in the current MLA-style, please use the example below.

Dixon, Catherine Jo. “Shakespeare Behind Bars and Courage.” Feast Of Languages. Catherine Jo Dixon, 1 July 2011. Web. [today’s date].

Note: The citation entry on the “Works Cited” or “Bibliography” page must have a “hanging indent.” The second line should be indented 5 spaces.

1. Name of Author. (Last Name, First Name.)
2. “Title of Work.”
3. Title of the Web Site (italicized)
4. Publisher of the web site,
5. Date of Publication.
6. Medium of Publication (in this case, the Web).
7. Date of access in “day, month, year” format.

English literature students most commonly use the Modern Language Association’s (MLA) style to write their papers. This citation reflects the [amazon_link id=”1603290249″ target=”_blank” ]MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th edition[/amazon_link] and/or the [amazon_link id=”0873522974″ target=”_blank” ]MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, 3rd edition[/amazon_link]. For additional information, I recommend a free online writing lab from Purdue University: “The Purdue OWL” which has current, credible information and reliable examples.

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