The documentary “Shakespeare Behind Bars” was shown at the Malcolm Field Theatre on Tuesday, Feb. 14. The documentary starred prison inmates.
The “Shakespeare behind bars” movement gives inmates a chance to play the roles created by famous playwright William Shakespeare. The inmates performed Shakespeare’s final piece, “The Tempest.”
The inmates found themselves in roles that were familiar to themselves on a personal level.
Each actor was given a character similar to themselves, and characters talked about how they could relate to their roles. The documentary focuses on the cast working on the play, and the challenges faced while rehearsing their scenes.
Many students were in attendance along with people from throughout the Tri-Cities area.
Jeremy Schultz said he attended for an extra credit opportunity for his criminal justice class.
The biology sophomore said he was glad he made the trip.
“I think it was meant to show something far beyond life in prison,” he said. “I think it was trying to show what it means to them to come back to something real.”
Another student who attended the campus showing was Nathan Page.
Page, a secondary education junior, was referred to the play through a friend and said he responded favorably to the documentary.
“I think it was to show that inmates are human,” he said.
What the audience gathered from the film may have differed from one to the other, but both Schultz and Page said the play had a positive mood to it.
“I would say it was inspiration,” Schultz said. “It was inspiration to see the inmates as actual people.”
Page pointed to the second chance the inmates gathered from the play.
“I think it was emotional,” he said. “I liked (“Shakespeare Behind Bars”) because it gives the inmates a chance to do something.”
The documentary that the audience saw looked at the individual participants as they looked at themselves. Not only did it alter the way they saw themselves, but it also changed how people outside of prison saw them.
“I think it definitely changed the perception of the inmates,” Page said.