Murderers Playing Murderers: Hamlet in Prison

Did you guys hear last week’s This American Life? It was a rerun from 2002, but still, so good!

It tells the story of Hamlet, Act V, performed by convicted felons in a maximum security prison in Missouri. Prison rules do not allow inmates to congregate for the four hours necessary to put on the full play, so they put on one act every six months, starting in 1999. Needless to say the men acting Shakespeare’s roles behind bars bring something entirely different to the play than do any other actors. One man sees the prison yard reflected in the character roles; another finds Shakespeare giving a voice to the man’s murder victim.

If nothing else, it will put you in the mood to read some Shakespeare.

Visit the program’s website here: Prison Performing Arts.

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