Curt L. Tofteland, Founder & Producing Director
Matt Wallace, Director of SBB|KY Programs
Co-Facilitators and Designers
Keith McGill, Co-Facilitator - SBB|Kentucky
Brian Hinds, C0-Facilitator - SBB|Kentucky
Kate Thomsen, Co-Facilitator- SBB|Michigan
Joseph Byrd, Co-Facilitator - SBB|Michigan
Edward Hartline, Co-Facilitator - SBB|Michigan
Bridgit McCarthy, Co-Facilitator - SBB|Michigan
Laura Peach, Co-Facilitator - SBB|Michigan
Donna Lawrence Downs, Costume Designer - SBB|Kentucky
CURT L. TOFTELAND
Founder & Producing Director
CURT L. TOFTELAND brings forty+ years of professional theatre experience to his current role as a freelance theatre artist - director, actor, producer, playwright, writer, teacher, program developer, prison arts practitioner, and consultant.
Curt is the Founder of the internationally acclaimed Shakespeare Behind Bars (SBB) program, now in its 28th year of continuous operation. From 1995-2008, Curt facilitated the SBB/KY program at the Luther Luckett Correctional Complex in LaGrange, Kentucky. During his thirteen year tenure, Curt produced and directed fourteen Shakespeare productions. Multiple participants in the SBB/KY program have garnered Pen Literary Prison Writing Awards, as well as been published in academic journals.
During the 2003 SBB production of The Tempest, Philomath Films chronicled the process in a documentary that premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and forty+ film festivals around the world winning a total of eleven film awards.Read full bio
Additionally, Curt has worked as a prison arts practitioner in the Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women - where he taught college classes for the Jefferson Community and Technical College and created a Ten Minute Playwriting Program, and the Kentucky State Reformatory - where he taught Jefferson County and Technical College theatre classes. Curt continues to facilitate a week-long intensive called the Journeyman for prisoners 18-25 years of age each year at the Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex, Green River Correctional Complex, and the Northpoint Training Center.
In the summer of 2010, Curt partnered with filmmaker/director/producer Robby Henson and playwright Elizabeth Orndorf to create Voices Inside - a 10-minute playwriting program - funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, at the Northpoint Training Center in Burgin, Kentucky. Now in its twelfth year of funding by National Endowment for the Arts, the program has generated inmate-authored plays that have gone on to be professionally produced at Theatrelab, an Off-Off-Broadway theatre, and the T-Shrieber Play Festival, both in New York City, and given readings at Actor’s Theatre of Louisville. Participants in the Voices Inside program have garnered one publication, four Pen Literary Prison Writing Awards, and one participant’s play was a finalist in Actors Theatre of Louisville’s 2015 National 10 Minute Playwriting Contest. In 2017 a collection of plays entitled I Come From: A Voices Inside Anthology was published by JW Books. Curt is an Associate Producer of I Come From: Imagination is Free, a documentary by filmmaker Robby Henson. The documentary features spoken word poets in prisons in Kentucky.
In 2011, Curt created the Shakespeare Behind Bars program at the Earnest C. Brooks Correctional Facility (Level II & IV security) in Muskegon Heights, Michigan. In 2012, Curt launched the first Michigan co-gender juvenile Shakespeare Behind Bars (Ottawa County Juvenile Detention Center) / Shakespeare Beyond Bars (Ottawa County Juvenile Justice Institute) program. Additional Shakespeare Behind Bars programs created at E.C. Brooks include: the Journeyman for prisoners under the age of 25 and Shakespeare in Housing Units. In 2014, Curt created three Shakespeare Behind Bars programs at the West Shoreline Correctional Facility in Muskegon Heights, Michigan, a Level I minimum security prison.
Curt created and has facilitated a series of proficiency classes, intensives, and immersions about Creating a Circle of Trust in Arts Within Corrections at the Public Theatre in New York City, NY; The Old Globe in San Diego, CA; Prison Performing Arts in St. Louis, MO; Still Point Theatre Collaborative in Chicago, IL; and Rome Shakespeare Festival in Rome, GA.
Curt has been invited to share his Shakespeare Behind Bars experience through screening the documentary, facilitating a post-screening audience talk-back, teaching master classes, and visiting classrooms at eighty-one colleges and universities (one hundred+ visits) across the United States; Additionally, he conducts Virtual Sessions in classrooms around the country; he has been a key presenter at the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the Shakespeare Association of America (SAA); he has been a key presenter multiple times at the Shakespeare Theatre Association (STA) Annual conference; he has been a multiple presenter at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) Regions I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, and VIII. He has been a VIP guest and presenter at numerous professional Shakespeare Festivals in North America including: the Stratford Shakespeare Festival (Stratford, Ontario); Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Ashland, Or); Old Globe Playhouse (San Diego, CA); Utah Shakespearean Festival (Cedar City, UT); American Players Theatre (Spring Green, WI); Chicago Shakespeare (Chicago, IL); Actors’ Shakespeare Project (Boston, MA); Chesapeake Shakespeare (Ellicott City, MD); Great River Shakespeare Festival (Winona, MN); Southwest Shakespeare Company (Mesa, AZ); Rome Shakespeare Festival (Rome, GA), Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival (Grand Valley, MI); Independent Shakespeare Company of LA (Los Angeles, CA); Kentucky Shakespeare Festival (Louisville, KY); Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park (Oklahoma City, OK - in association with Oklahoma City Museum of Art); Shakespeare Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, CA - in association with the William James Association); and he has taught the SBB process internationally, in Switzerland, at the International School of Lausanne and the College du Leman in Geneva.
Curt is a founding member, a keynote presenter, and the Curator of Program Content for the inaugural Shakespeare in Prison Network Conference hosted by the University of Notre Dame in November, 2013 and repeated in January, 2016, the Old Globe Theatre in March, 2018, in partnership with the Folger Shakespeare Library and the University of Notre Dame Virtual Conference in 2020-21. In 2022, Curt was honored for his life-long contributions to the field of Arts in Corrections by having a perpetual SiPN International Award for an outstanding returned citizen named The Curt L. Tofteland Award.
He was a proficiency teacher at the Arts in Corrections: Reframing the Landscape of Justice in San Jose (June, 2019) and Building Bridges to the Future in Los Angeles (June, 2017) and a featured presenter the Marking Time: A Prison Arts and Activism Conference at Rutgers University (October, 2014). He is a founding member of the Justice Arts Coalition.
Curt is an often invited keynote speaker and panelist at national and international theatre conference including: 2022 Bell Shakespeare National Teacher Conference (Sydney, New South Wales, AUS); 2018 Theatre and Drama in Prison. Prison in Theatre and Drama (Warsaw Poland); 2018 British Shakespeare Association Conference (Belfast, Northern Ireland), and 2018 Shakespeare in America - Southern Oregon University/Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Ashland, OR); 2017 401 years after Shakespeare: Shifting Paradigms from the Shakespearean Human to the Post-Human Conference (Heritage College, Kolkata, India); 2017 Pedagogy & Theatre of the Oppressed Conference (Detroit, Michigan); 2017 Theatre Communications Group Conference (Portland, OR); 2017 Shakespeare Theatre Conference (Stratford, ONT).
Curt has been the keynote speaker at the Prison Performing Arts Fundraiser, St; Louis, MO; Albert S. Johnston, Jr. Memorial Shakespeare Lecturer at University of North Alabama; Tzedek Lecture at University of Oregon; Jepson Leadership Forum at University of Richmond; Distinguished Lecture at University of Wisconsin-Waukesha; Gates-Ferry Distinguished Visiting Lectureship at Centenary College; Personal Effectiveness and Employability Through the Arts (PEETA) International Symposium, Rotterdam, Netherlands; the European League of Institutes of the Arts (ELIA) Joint International Symposium with Columbia College, Chicago, IL; National Arts Club in New York City; Utah Shakespearean Festival’s Wooden O Symposium; Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern University School of Law panel discussion about the First Amendment in Prison: Marking the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail; and the Shakespeare Connection Conference at the Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival.
Curt has delivered four TEDx Talks. In 2016, at TEDx Muskegon (Muskegon, MI) on the subject of living in the rub between light and darkness; in 2013, at TEDx Berkeley, on the subject of building circles-of-trust; in 2012, at TEDx Macatawa (Holland, MI) on the subject of revenge and mercy; and in 2010, at TEDx East (New York City), on the subject of shame. Additionally, Curt was a speaker at the 2012 IDEA Festival in Louisville, KY; at the Vibe Wire Youth, Inc. FastBREAK Breakfast Speaker Series in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Curt is the recipient of three distinctive fellowships, two from the Fulbright Foundation and one from the Petra Foundation, for his work as a prison arts practitioner using Shakespeare in corrections. Curt’s 2011 Fulbright Senior Scholar Fellowship took him to Australia to share his SBB experience as a co-facilitator with Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble’s prison program at the Borallon Correctional Centre in Queensland. Curt’s 2015 Fulbright Alumni Initiative Grant took him back to Australia to direct plays written by prisoners from the Voices Inside program, produced by Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble, and performed for prisoners in the Southern Queensland Correction Centre in Gatton and Wolston Correctional Centre in Wacol.
In 2015, Curt was named a Creative Fellow at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. The Fellowship took him on a two week tour of New Zealand visiting Auckland, Christchurch, and Wellington, where he toured prisons, gave public addresses, served on prison arts practitioner panels, and taught master classes. Curt created a circle of trust now called Redemption Performing Arts at the Northern Region Correctional Facility.
Curt is the Executive Producer of Prospero’s Prison, a film by Tom Magill, an award-winning Northern Ireland filmmaker and founder of Educational Shakespeare Company.
Curt is a published poet and essayist who writes about the transformative power of art, theatre, and the works of William Shakespeare. He has six published essays - “We Know What We Are, We Know Not What We May Be: The Circle of Trust” in New Directions in Dramatury, California Shakespeare Theater webpage; “My Better Angels Versus My Lesser Demons” in Paso de Gato: Revista Mexicana de Teatro; “I was Built for Runnin’ but I Dream of Flyin’ in The Possibilities of Creativity, University Auckland Press 2016; “The Keeper of the Keys: Building a Successful Relationship with the Warden” in Performing New Lives: Reflections on Prison Theatre, London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2010; “As Performed: By Shakespeare Behind Bars at the Luther Luckett Correctional Complex in LaGrange, KY, 2003” in The Tempest, Chicago: Sourcebooks Shakespeare 2008; and an essay, published in the 2012 edition of the Shakespeare Survey, that is co-written with SBB/KY founding member Hal Cobb - “Prospero Behind Bars”. He was a columnist for Prison Life. Curt’s essay - “Shakespeare Goes to Prison: Holding the Transformative Mirror up to Nature: Responsibility, Forgiveness, and Redemption” won the University of Wyoming 2010 National Amy and Eric Burger Essays on Theatre Competition. Additionally, Curt continues to write his own book, Behind the Bard-Wire: Reflection, Responsibility, Redemption, & Forgiveness . . . The Transformational Power of Art, Theatre, and Shakespeare.
From 1989 to 2008, he was the Producing Artistic Director of Kentucky Shakespeare Festival. During his twenty year tenure, Curt produced fifty Shakespeare productions, directed twenty-five Shakespeare productions, and acted in eight Shakespeare Productions. As a professional director and an Equity actor, he has 200+ professional productions to his credit. Additionally, he has presented 400+ performances of his one man show Shakespeare’s Clownes: A Foole’s Guide to Shakespeare.
Curt is a founding member and past president of the Shakespeare Theatre Association, an international service organization for theaters which produce the works of William Shakespeare. In 2016, he received the Sidney Berger Award from STA.
Curt has professionally guest directed at Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble (Brisbane, Queensland AUS), Chesapeake Shakespeare (Baltimore, MD), Illinois Shakespeare Festival (Bloomington/Normal, IL), Theatre at Monmouth (Monmouth, ME), American Shakespeare Center - Blackfriars Playhouse (Stanton, VA), Actors Shakespeare Project (Boston, MA), Oklahoma Shakespeare (Oklahoma City, OK), Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival (Allendale, MI), Foothills Theatre Company (Worcester, MA), Hope Summer Repertory Theatre (Holland, MI), Kalamazoo Civic Theatre (Kalamazoo, MI), Fort Harrod Drama Productions (Harrodsburg, KY), Actors Theatre of Louisville (Louisville, KY), Stage One (Louisville, KY), Bunbury Theatre (Louisville, KY), Farmington Lunch Time Theatre (Louisville, KY), Kentucky Contemporary Theatre (Louisville, KY), and New Composer Residency (Louisville, KY).
In 1989, Curt designed, wrote, and hosted the award-winning creative thinking series, Imagine That for Kentucky Educational Television.
Curt is the recipient of a number of prestigious honors and awards, including a Doctor of Humanities from Oakland University, Doctor of Humane Letters from Bellarmine University, an Al Smith Fellowship in playwriting from the Kentucky Arts Council, the Sidney Berger Award from the Shakespeare Theatre Association, the Fleur-de-lis Award from the Louisville Forum, the Mildred A. Dougherty Award from the Greater Louisville English Council, and a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Minnesota.
For information on booking Curt to speak at your event, conference, or in the classroom, contact him directly at email@example.com.
Director of SBB|KY Programs
Matt has been Director/Facilitator of the Shakespeare Behind Bars program at Luther Luckett Correctional Complex and the Kentucky programs since 2008, directing SBB seasons of King Lear, Midsummer Night's Dream, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, Pericles, Much Ado About Nothing, Richard III, Romeo and Juliet, Merchant of Venice, The Winter’s Tale, and Macbeth. He served as Program Director and Facilitator of the SBB Multidisciplinary Juvenile Arts Program at the Audubon Youth Development Center for several years and created the Shakespeare Beyond Bars programs at Louisville Day Treatment Center, Home of the Innocents, and Uspiritus. He also created and facilitated the Journeymen Programs for 18-21 year olds at Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex and Luther Luckett Correctional Complex, a partnership with the Kentucky Department of Education and Arts for All Kentucky, the state organization on arts and disability. The Kentucky Council on Crime and Delinquency awarded Matt the Volunteer of the Year Award for Outstanding Service and Commitment to the Kentucky Criminal Justice System.
Matt has served as Producing Artistic Director of Kentucky Shakespeare since August 2013 where he has directed productions of Shakespeare in Love, The Turn of the Screw, Shakespeare in the Parking Lot: Macbeth, The Turn of the Screw, Celebrate 60, King Lear, As You Like It, The Comedy of Errors, Othello, Titus Andronicus, Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar, Much Ado About Nothing, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, Macbeth, The Tempest, and Shakespeare in the Parks Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, and Hamlet. Under his leadership, Kentucky Shakespeare received the 2015 Center for Nonprofit Excellence Pyramid of Excellence Art of Vision Award, and the 2017 Louisville Awards in the Arts Bobby Petrino Family Foundation Arts Impact Award. Recent awards include the 2015 Fund for the Arts Allan Cowen Innovation Award, 2014 Alden Fellowship from the Community Foundation of Louisville, and 2014 and 2015 Broadway World Louisville Regional Awards for Best Director. He was previously an Artistic Associate with the company for nine years from 2001-2010, performed in main stage productions in the park, toured throughout the state, and directed in Central Park. Favorite acting credits with the company since 2001 include the Player and Guildenstern in productions of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing, Antonio in The Merchant of Venice, Orlando in As You Like It, and Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
He was Director of Children’s Theatre and Audience Development at Derby Dinner Playhouse for several years where he acted, directed, and created the Performing Arts Academy. Matt has also directed and performed professionally at Chicago theaters, across the Midwest, and throughout the region for over twenty years. Film and TV credits include roles in The Perfect Gift, 1 Message, Pieces of Easter, and Forrest Gump.
He holds a BFA in Regional Theatre/Acting from the Webster University Conservatory of Theatre Arts in St. Louis.
Keith McGill has been a free-lance theater teacher and workshop leader for over a decade for organizations including Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, ArtsReach, and Walden Theatre and Actors’ Theatre’s New Voices playwriting program. He has also appeared in productions with various theatre organizations, such as Actors Theatre, The Necessary Theatre, Pleaides Theatre, Louisville Repertory Theatre, Looking for Lilith Theatre Company and the Royal Palm Players. Keith is very excited and proud to be part of Shakespeare Behind Bars.
Brian Hinds is a theater teacher at the Youth Performing Arts School (YPAS), where he teaches freshman theatre majors and playwriting. Originally from Maine, Brian spent ten years with the Children’s Theatre of Maine, where he served as an actor, instructor, and director. Since moving to Louisville, Brian worked as an outreach artist with Kentucky Shakespeare and Commonwealth Theatre Center. As an actor, Brian has performed with Kentucky Shakespeare (Burbage in Shakespeare in Love, Macbeth in Shakespeare in the Parking Lot: Macbeth, Richard in Richard III, Macduff in Macbeth, Sir Toby in Twelfth Night, Cassius in Julius Caesar), StageOne Family Theatre, The Bard Theater (Rx, Seminar), Liminal Playhouse (Captain Tock in The Fastest Clock in the Universe) and Savage Rose Classical Theatre (Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Malvolio in Twelfth Night, and Prospero in The Tempest). Recent directing credits include The Comedy of Errors, The Crucible, Tom Jones, Hamlet, and Our Town at YPAS. Brian is also a member of Louisville Improvisors.
Edward joined Shakespeare Behind Bars|Michigan as a facilitator-in-training in 2013. He began his career as a Systems Design and Analysis analyst for the US Air Force. Following his Honorable Discharge, Edward worked for Reynolds Electrical and Engineering Company (Operations Management Company for the Nevada Nuclear Test Site) in Las Vegas Nevada. While in Las Vegas, he completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, with an emphasis on Personnel Management, from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas; he taught Systems Design and Analysis and Introduction to Computers at the Clark County Community College; and he began his consulting business, Hartline and Associates, LLC.Read full bio
Edward’s career took a major shift when he moved to the Los Angeles, CA area to become a salesman of high-end scientific super computers to the Aerospace Industry performing weapons and aircraft design and research and to universities doing high end scientific research. After 16 years of success, the federal government significantly reduced funding for weapons research and the industry was rocked with massive layoffs. At this time Edward re-imagined himself and became a Career and Life Success Coach to people laid off from the Aerospace sector and wanted to pursue something different with their life. In 2000, after a rewarding and successful 10 years as a coach, a series of life events brought him to Holland, Michigan where he has worked for The Dispute Resolution Center as Executive Director; The American Red Cross of West Michigan as Blood Services Coordinator; and Integration by Design as Computer Specialist-Office Manager.
Edward’s current passion began in 2006 when he provided Life Success Coaching to men and women upon their release from prison, jail, and or drug rehab facilities. To date, Edward has worked with more than 30 men and women. Additionally, he has provided administrative support for the nationally recognized Michigan Prisoner Reentry and 2nd Chance programming in Muskegon, Oceana, and Ottawa counties.
Donna joined the SBB team in 2010. She has designed costumes for SBB at Luther Luckett Correctional Complex productions of King Lear, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, Pericles, Much Ado About Nothing, The Winter’s Tale, The Merchant of Venice, Romeo and Juliet, and Richard III.
Donna has been part of the Louisville Theatre family for over 25 years. Currently, she is the resident costume designer for Kentucky Shakespeare. She was costume shop manager, draper and resident designer for StageOne for 18 seasons as well as costume shop manager and resident designer for Music Theatre Louisville for 15 seasons and worked as shoe mitress and draper/first hand at Louisville Ballet for 6 years. She has been lucky enough to work with many theatres in town, including Kentucky Opera, Pandora Productions, CenterStage, Bellarmine University, Actor’s Theatre, Kentucky Country Day and Derby Dinner Playhouse.Read full bio
Included among the over 360 shows that Donna has designed are: A Midsummer Night's Dream, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Richard II, The Tempest, Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night, Alice in Wonderland, Sideways Stories from Wayside School, The Jackie Robinson Story, The Diary of Anne Frank, A Year With Frog And Toad, Jesus Christ Superstar, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Hello Dolly, The Full Monty, Schoolhouse Rocks Live, and You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. Donna designed costumes for The Great Gilly Hopkins for StageOne, which played on Broadway at the New Victory Theatre in 1998. Donna has also had the great opportunity to work with award-winning costume designers Jane Greenwood, Martin Pakladinez, Marie Ann Chimet and Andre Barber as a draper for Opera Theatre St. Louis.