The Possibilities of Creativity

Edited by Peter O’Connor

This volume brings together internationally renowned academics, arts practitioners and thinkers to take a multi-disciplinary look at the nature of the creative process and examine its possibilities for social and individual change. The book challenges the most common misconceptions about how we can be creative, and suggests that creativity is central to human survival.

Curt L. Tofteland, Founder of Shakespeare Behind Bars, has a chapter in this book.


Prison Shakespeare: For These Deep Shames and Great Indignities

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Pensalfini, Rob, Prison Shakespeare: For These Deep Shames and Great Indignities, Palgrave Macmillan, pub. 2016.

Dr. Pensalfini’s book explores the development of the global phenomenon of Prison Shakespeare, from its emergence in the 1980s to the present day. It provides a succinct history of the phenomenon and its spread before going on to explore one case study – the Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble’s (Australia) Shakespeare Prison Project – in detail. The book then analyses the phenomenon from a number of perspectives, and evaluates a number of claims made about the outcomes of such programs, particularly as they relate to offender health and behaviour. Unlike previous works on the topic, which are largely individual case studies, this book focuses not only on Prison Shakespeare’s impact on the prisoners who directly participate, but also on prison culture and on broader social attitudes towards both prisoners and Shakespeare.


Prison_Shakespeare_and_the_Purpose_of_PerformancePrison Shakespeare and the Purpose of Performance: Repentance Rituals and the Early Modern
by Niels Herold

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Herold, Niels, Prison Shakespeare and the Purpose of Performance: Repentance Rituals and the Early Modern, Palgrave Macmillan, pub. Oct. 17, 2014.

Over the last decade a number of prison theatre programs have developed to rehabilitate inmates by having them perform Shakespearean adaptations. While twentieth and twenty-first century ideas about theatre as therapy, political resistance, and popular education hold sway for many programs, this book focuses on how prison theatre today reveals certain elements of the early modern theatre that were themselves responses to cataclysmic changes in theological doctrine and religious practice. Herold reads the Shakespearean theatre at once historically and forward (“presentising”). He examines the precise dramaturgical and ideological elements of this historical theatre that are today conducive to the remarkable rehabilitative success of prison theatre programs like Shakespeare Behind Bars.


Performing New Lives

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Performing New Lives draws together some of the most original and innovative programs in contemporary prison theatre. Leading prison theatre directors and practitioners discuss the prison theatre experience first-hand, and offer valuable insights into its role, function, and implementation.

A wide range of prison theatre initiatives are discussed, from long-running, high-profile programs such as Curt Tofteland’s “Shakespeare Behind Bars” in LaGrange, Kentucky, to fledgling efforts like Jodi Jinks’ “ArtsAloud” project in Austin, Texas. The book offers unique insights into the many dimensions of the prison theatre experience, including: negotiating the rules and restrictions of the prison environment; establishing trust, teaching performance skills and managing crises; building relationships and dealing with conflicts; and negotiating public performances and public perceptions. Excerpts of interviews with inmates, and a conversation between practitioners in the final chapter, reveal the impact that prison theatre programs have on the performers themselves, as well as audience members, and the wider community.

Exploring prison theatre processes and theory with insights into how it works in practice, and how to replicate it, this book is essential reading for drama therapists, theatre artists, and prison educators, as well as academics.

Jessica Kingsley Publishers Blog
Salvation through Shakespeare: An Interview with Laura Bates, contributor to ‘Performing New Lives: Prison Theatre


Life Upon the Sacred Stage