The Shakespeare in the Park team had the opportunity to present a very unique workshop several weeks ago – to current and prospective members of The Shakespeare Prison Project at the Racine Correctional Institution. The Shakespeare Prison Project is a partnership between Racine Correctional Institution and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside that provides opportunities for prisoners to study, rehearse and perform the works of William Shakespeare. Since 2004, the project has encompassed six plays and nearly 800 prisoners.
The Shakespeare Prison Project’s 2015-2016 production is A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Which is how M.L Cogar, Tom Reed, Ron Scot Fry, Marcee Doherty-Elst, Tess Cinpinski and Susan Scot Fry found themselves as honored guests in the Big House.
At the special invitation of Mr. Jonathan Shailor, Founder of the Shakespeare in the Prisons Project, OT staff and actors from 2015’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream had the opportunity to meet inmates involved in The Muddy Flower Theatre Troupe. Having recently completed a production of Hamlet, the troupe and other interested inmates were considering doing Midsummer next.
After intensive and extensive scrutiny including background checks and searches, the team found themselves spending the evening talking about performing Shakespeare with about 25 medium- to maximum-security inmates.
Susan Fry relates, "once we realized that we were able to effectively follow the ground rules that Jonathan had provided, the discussion became lively. It was enlightening and enjoyable.
"It was an amazing experience. One that every single actor and producer on the Shakespeare in the Park panel will remember for the rest of our lives."
Read Jonathan Shailor's blog about this visit.