2013 SPN Conference


Shakespeare at Notre Dame presented its first-annual Shakespeare in Prisons Conference on November 1516, 2013.

Shakespeare at Notre Dame was honored to host the Shakespeare in Prisons Conference, one of the world’s first major gatherings of prison arts practitioners, on November 15–16, 2013. Scholars and practitioners from South Africa, Australia, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and every corner of the United States were in attendance.

The primary focus of the conference was on how engagement with the works of William Shakespeare and the broader theatre arts within the prison setting promotes a habilitation of not only the inmate’s mind, but also the body, heart, and soul.

The success of this work was highlighted by public screenings of Shakespeare Behind Bars and Mickey B in the Browning Cinema at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. These two films perfectly illustrate the redemptive power of Shakespeare and its importance in cultivating a new sense of self in those whose past transgressions have left them with little or no hope for the future.

Curt Tofteland (founding director of Shakespeare Behind Bars) and Tom Magill (director of Mickey B and founder of the Educational Shakespeare Company in Belfast) presented Q&A sessions after each respective screening.

The conference served to break down the isolation inherent in the prison arts practitioner experience, linking global methodologies and practices together in an exploration of the power of the arts—and specifically Shakespeare—in the rehabilitation of incarcerated populations. Additionally, the Shakespeare in Prisons Conference sought to broaden the University of Notre Dame’s enduring commitment to exploring issues and collaboratively seeking solutions on questions of social justice.

View a full schedule of 2013 conference events.


  • Shakespeare Behind Bars and post-screening talkback with Curt Tofteland: Friday, Nov. 15, 2013
  • Mickey B and talkback with director Tom Magill: Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013

Both screenings were held in the Browning Cinema at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.


Center for Social Concerns
DeBartolo Performing Arts Center
Deborah J. Loughrey Endowment for Excellence in Shakespeare Studies
Henkels Lecture Fund, Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts
Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies
Nanovic Institute for European Studies

A huge thank you to the organizations listed above for their support of and belief in this innovative project!

Please contact Scott Jackson, Executive Director of Shakespeare at Notre Dame, with inquiries about this and/or upcoming Shakespeare in Prisons conferences.