SBB Documentary

Shakespeare Behind Bars Documentary is now available for streaming at this link.

SBB Documentary

Philomath Films documentary about Shakespeare Behind Bars was one of 16 documentaries (out of 624 entries) to be selected for its world premiere at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

Philomath Film's 90-minute documentary follows the nine month process of bringing William Shakespeare's play, The Tempest, to performance.


From Philomath Films:
Take Shakespeare's final play The Tempest with its violent seas, windswept island, crucial connection to nature, and underlying theme of forgiveness, and bring it into a prison, the ultimate venue of confinement. The result is an extraordinary story about the creative process and the power of art to heal and redeem--in a place where the very act of participation in theatre is a human triumph and a means of personal liberation.

In Hank Rogerson's revelatory trip into and around this prison production, we embark on a year-long journey with the Shakespeare Behind Bars theatre troupe. Led by director Curt Tofteland, whose innovative work with Luther Luckett inmates began in the mid-1990s, the prisoners cast themselves in roles reflecting their personal history and fate. Their individual stories, including information about their heinous crimes, are interwoven with the plot of The Tempest as the inmates delve deeply into the characters they portray while confronting their personal demons.


SHAKESPEARE BEHIND BARS is a tremendously moving film, where the protagonists are not merely defined by their crimes but are afforded dignity and a fresh chance to look truth in the eye, and embrace it.

SHAKESPEARE BEHIND BARS is written and directed by Hank Rogerson and produced by Jilann Spitzmiller.  Rogerson and Spitzmiller are a husband and wife team that has collaborated on projects for 15 years, including the award-winning documentary HOMELAND for ITVS and CIRCLE OF STORIES, also for ITVS, which was part of the Sundance Online Film Festival in 2003.

Produced by Philomath Films in association with the Independent Television Service (ITVS) and the BBC, with major funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The film has received other major support from the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund, and was selected for the first-ever Sundance Institute Documentary Story and Edit Lab, as well as the Sundance Documentary Composer’s Lab in 2004.


For information on screenings and talkbacks of SHAKESPEARE BEHIND BARS, contact us at

From the makers of SHAKESPEARE BEHIND BARS comes STILL DREAMING, a true-life, poignant tale that will leave you laughing and full of inspiration to follow your dreams.  STILL DREAMING is the raucous adventure of several retired Broadway entertainers at the Actor’s Retirement Home in New Jersey as they stage a comeback with Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. This true-life, poignant tale will leave you laughing and full of inspiration to follow your own dreams.

Voices Inside is an inspirational inmate writing and theater program at Northpoint Training Center, a medium security prison near Danville, KY. Co-founded by Curt L. Tofteland, Shakespeare Behind Bars Producing Director, Robby Henson, Artistic Director, Pioneer Playhouse, and playwright Elizabeth Orndorff. The program uses theater arts and creative thinking to increase communication skills, build self-esteem, and humanize and enrich the lives of those closed off behind bars.

Where I Come From
A film by Robby Henson
Prison poets and writers express humanity behind bars. This documentary film reflects the Voices Inside program at Northpoint Training Center in Kentucky. The documentary was included in the Independent Filmmaker's Southern Circuit Series.