"Performing New Lives offers remarkable case studies of how theater-in-prison can reduce recidivism and violence by raising consciousness---all while having a great time on the stage."---Stephen John Hartnett. Chair, Department of Communication. University of Colorado Denver, and editor of Challenging the Prison-Industrial Complex
Theatrical performance in prison settings can be a powerful vehicle for reflection, transformation, and rehabilitation. In this original and thought-provoking book, leading practitioners describe and reflect upon the prison theatre experience, and offer valuable insights into its role, function, and implementation.
A broad spectrum of approaches, models, and practices are represented, from long-running, high profile programs such as Curt Tofteland's "Shakespeare Behind Bars" in LaGrange, Kentucky, to fledgling efforts such as Jodi Jinks' "ArtsAloud" project in Austin, Texas. The contributors describe the processes involved in setting up and facilitating successful prison theatre initiatives, and provide a variety of perspectives on the many dimensions of the prison theatre experience.
Excerpts from interviews with offenders and an extended conversation between practitioners provide useful insights into the impact that prison theatre has on participants, practitioners, audience members, and the wider community.
This book will provide valuable reading for drama therapists, theatre artists, probation workers, prison educators, psychologists, and anyone else interested in the role of the performing arts in criminal justice.
(...) this is a thought-provoking collection that effectively rehearses some of the arguments for prison theatre in a straightforward, accessible and engaging manner - eloquently describing not only the practice, but also its rationale. -- Research in Drama Education
(...) an engrossing collection... These inspiring narratives invite us behind bars in some of the most challenging environments for theatre workers, where creative solutions to obstacles to the work are constantly sought. -- Griffith University
I picked up this book with mild interest. I quickly became gripped. It is directed at anyone interested in the role o the performing arts in criminal justice but I think it may have something valuable to say to many others working with people who, because of difficult circumstances, most often troubled beginnings, are struggling against the odds to make their way through life. -- Human Givens Journal
When Jonathan Shailor started producing Shakespeare's plays in prisons in Wisconsin, the media lit up with debates about whether our imprisoned neighbours had the right to act, to play, and to explore new lives and roles by inhabiting the words and worlds of the stage's great authors. In this stunning collection of essays, some of the nation's leading prison educators and activists offer startling, ennobling, and definitive answers to those questions: Yes prisoners can and should act, Yes they need to play just like the rest of us, and Yes they benefit tremendously from exploring new modes of being by studying and then embodying the words of great playwrights... Performing New Lives offers remarkable case studies of how theatre-in-prison can reduce recidivism and violence by raising consciousness - all while having a great time on the stage. -- Stephen John Hartnett, Chair, Department of Communication, U.C. Denver, and editor of Challenging the Prison-Industrial Complex