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The 4th International Shakespeare in Prisons Conference (SiPC4)

November 2020-April 2021

Why Shakespeare Now?
Building on three previous conferences (2013, 2016, and 2018), SiPC4 gathers theatre arts practitioners, researchers, and scholars who are currently engaged with or interested in programs for incarcerated (and post-incarcerated) populations. From November 2020 through April 2021, SiPC4 will stimulate discussion through speakers, performances, and workshop sessions offering case studies and best practices within the prisons arts movement. 

Registration & More Info Sched (Attendees Only)

November 2020 Events December 2020 Events January 2021 Events February 2021 Events

November 2020 Events

Opening Ceremony/The Future is Now: A Social Justice Roadmap
Barry Edelstein (The Old Globe Theatre's Erna Finci Viterbi Artistic Director) and Freedome Bradley-Ballentine (Director of Arts Engagement and Associate Artistic Director) have "embarked on a series of reforms to intensify and accelerate necessary change at all levels" of their institution. In codifying anti-racist practices and principals into their organizational processes, they've begun to answer the call for "long overdue change" made by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) theatremakers. The conversation and audience Q&A was moderated by Karen Ann Daniels (The Public Theater's Director of Mobile Unit and Co-Producer of the Shakespeare in Prisons Conference). 




I Am Worthy of Yes: Art as a Healing Mechanism in Community 
Beginning with a guided meditation to ground community during an unprecedented time, Mama Nia Wilson of SpiritHouse Inc. offers conference participants a moment to center themselves. The session continues with a discussion between Praycious Wilson-Gay and Mama Nia around the work of SpiritHouse Inc. and their choreopoem community intervention and ritual performance Collective Sun: Reshape the Mo(u)rning. They also discuss community care and what it looks like to use art as a healing mechanism in community. The session finishes with a video about SpiritHouse Inc. and the impact of their work in the Durham, NC community.




Ashley Lucas: Prison Theatre and the Global Crisis of Incarceration
Session 1: An Interview About Prison Theatre Culture

Scholar Karen Hamer interviews Ashley Lucas about her new book Prison Theatre and the Global Crisis of Incarceration (Methuen Drama, 2020). By discussing a range of performance practices tied to incarceration, this book examines the ways in which arts practitioners and imprisoned people use theatre as a means to build communities, attain professional skills, create social change, and maintain hope.

Ashley Lucas: Prison Theatre and the Global Crisis of Incarceration
Session 2: Experiences from Around the World

When conducting research for her book, Ashley Lucas traveled throughout ten different countries to observe as many theatre companies inside of prisons as she could. The formerly incarcerated actors on this panel represent three prison theatre programs in the United States and one in Australia. They discuss what being a part of a prison theatre company has meant to them during and after their time in prison.

Ashley Lucas: Prison Theatre and the Global Crisis of Incarceration
Session 3: Directors Reflect on Their Challenges

Ashley Lucas draws upon her research to speak with the key minds behind prison theatre programs across the world. The directors on this panel represent prison theatre companies in Canada, the United States, Australia, South Africa, and Brazil. They discuss the challenges of making theatre in prisons before and during the global pandemic.

December 2020 Events

The Actors' Gang and Avenal State Prison: A Collaborative Approach to Arts in Corrections
Three leaders and pioneers of the Alumni Network - Richard Loya, John Dich, and Major Bunton - will be sharing a conversation with the visionary warden of Avenal State Prison, Rosemary Ndoh, and her nontraditional team. Richard, John, and Major will discuss their first-hand experience of establishing a class at Avenal State Prison and what it has meant to return as teaching artists.

January 2021 Events

Live Q&A: The Body Keeps the Score - Brain, Mind and Body in Healing Trauma
Join us for an in-depth Q&A with Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, a psychiatrist, researcher, and one of the world’s foremost authorities on post-traumatic stress and its treatment and healing, featuring Curt L. Tofteland (founder of Shakespeare Behind Bars and co-founder of the Shakespeare in Prison Network) and Stephan Wolfert (founder of DE-CRUIT).

On Antiracism: Dr. Sylvan Baker 
In a wide-ranging monologue on the interconnectedness of racial oppression and institutions, Dr. Sylvan Baker explores how global phenomenon, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter uprising triggered by the murders of George Floyd and Breanna Taylor, don’t just reveal structural racism, but act as a clarion call for Antiracist practices in all socially engaged arts contexts.

If I Ran the Shakespeare Prison Project: Alumni of the Shakespeare Prison Project 
Formerly-incarcerated actors share their thoughts about "best practices" and new possibilities for prison Shakespeare programs. Drawing from their own experiences, insights, and ideas about "what would make life more wonderful," participants explain how they would design and facilitate a program.




Live Q&A: Marlon Burnley's "Black in the Box," With Marlon Burnley and Angela Hall 
Marlon Burnley, creator of the solo movement piece "Black in the Box", discusses how his award-winning show explores the Black experience in America. Featuring Angela Hall of the University of Georgia and members of the 4th International Shakespeare in Prisons Conference.

My Relationship with Shakespeare: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly 
A panel of BIPOC artists who believe in the power of words to heal, as well as to wound, come together to interrogate Shakespeare and to share their personal experiences working on his works. Featuring Madeleine Sayet (Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program), Malik Work (The Public Theater), Niki Martinez (The Old Globe), and Devon Glover. Moderated by Curt L. Tofteland (Shakespeare Behind Bars).




February 2021 Events

RICHARD III - IN PRISON: A Critical Edition
Four alumni of the Detroit Public Theatre's Shakespeare in Prison project discuss what working on the book "RICHARD III - IN PRISON: A Critical Edition" means to them, and the importance of the project as a means of breaking down stereotypes, asserting that the voices of returned citizens matter, and creating access, passion, and ownership of Shakespeare for people who have historically been alienated from it.

Shakespeare's "The Tempest" at Korydallos Prison in Athens, Greece
Director, playwright, and actor Stratis Panourios describes how a performance of "The Tempest" came to life at Korydallos Prison in Athens, Greece. Organized by the National Theatre of Greece in collaboration with Korydallos Prison and the Anti-Crime Policy of Greece, the performance featured 20 participants who attended a series of theoretical and practical sessions on the fundamental principles of acting – a study on the actor’s process – and on the exploration and analysis of Shakespearean plays. 

Approaches to Drama Therapy
In this session, Drama Therapists and Shakespeare for Social Justice teaching artists for Marin Shakespeare Company share insight on how drama therapy techniques influence the work we do inside the walls. The objective is to introduce some basic Drama Therapy skills that build qualities of connection, emotional awareness, and empathy, as well as the theory behind it. Warm-ups and exercises that can be applicable to any class experience are demonstrated. In our live session, we will conduct a more hands-on experience, and invite participants to play with some Shakespeare text.