4th International Shakespeare in Prisons Conference (SiPC4) Information

Author: James Comerford

SiPC4 Registration Now Open!

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The 4th international Shakespeare in Prisons Conference (SiPC4) will be held virtually beginning November 9, 2020. Produced in partnership with the Folger Institute.

Building on three previous conferences (2013, 2016, and 2018), SiPC4 will gather theatre arts practitioners, researchers, and scholars who are currently engaged with or interested in programs for incarcerated (and post-incarcerated) populations. Designed to stimulate discussion through speakers, performances, and workshop sessions offering case studies and best practices within the prisons arts movement, this conference considers a number of questions:

  • Why Shakespeare now?
  • What is the nature of Shakespeare’s exploration of prisons, prisoners, and the post-incarcerated, and how might Shakespeare speak to the realities of prison life in the United States and the experiences of returning citizens today?
  • What are the possibilities for academic research on this work and its implications for future directions in Shakespeare studies, and how might that research intersect with, for instance, work on gender and sexuality, disability, childhood, and educational practices and pedagogies?
  • Can we collectively build a movement within the prison arts practitioner community that centers antiracist and decolonization practice toward the evolution of a truly equitable pedagogical practice?
  • Is Shakespeare an oppressive force within the prison-industrial complex?
  • How are practitioners in related performing arts disciplines engaging incarcerated populations and what can we learn from their experiences?
  • What are the effects of trauma on the prison population and how might we develop teaching approaches that seek to mitigate it?
  • How are we as practitioners (and as a society) supporting returned citizens upon their release?

Scholars and practitioners who are interested in sharing their experiences or learning how one works with Shakespeare and the theatre arts in incarcerated settings are encouraged to attend. 

SiPC4 Organizing Committee:

  • Freedome Bradley-Ballentine is the Associate Artistic Director and Director of Arts Engagement at the Old Globe in San Diego.
  • Melinda Cooper is an independent project manager and activist living in Virginia.
  • Karen Ann Daniels is the Director of the Public Theater's Mobile Unit in NYC.
  • Scott Jackson is the Mary Irene Ryan Family Executive Director of Shakespeare at Notre Dame.
  • Curt Tofteland is Founding Director of Shakespeare Behind Bars.
  • Praycious Wilson-Gay is the Coordinator of the Public Theater's Mobile Unit in NYC.

Featured sessions will be held online. SiPC4 has adopted a weekly format for publishing sessions and live Q&As. Once dropped, sessions will be available to view at any time. The schedule for live events will be determined through direct polling of registered SiPC4 attendees. This weekly format allows SiPC4 to pivot our programming in response to world events and as such a formal schedule will not be posted in advance.

Click here to register for SiPC4.

Conference Proposals:
The SiPC4 Organizing Committee is currently accepting proposals and session ideas HERE.

Shakespeare in Prisons Network: In Conversation

Watch our series of roundtable discussions and live Q&As addressing topics of immediate concern to the prison arts practitioner community in the shadow of COVID-19.

Join the conversation:
Stay current on conference developments and special programs leading up to SiPC4 by joining the Shakespeare in Prisons Network Facebook group. You may also receive updates via email by sending us a message.