British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

Shakespeare Behind Bars

Synopsis
Documentary. Twenty male inmates of the Luther Luckett Correctional Complex in La Grange, Kentucky form an acting troupe and perform The Tempest. The film follows the inmates through a 40-week rehearsal period and stresses the analogies between the play and the prisoners - one man remarks ‘Caliban is such a savage...I feel like I have to regress to play him’. But the play’s themes of forgiveness and redemption are also brought to the fore as the play helps them understand themselves and the nature of their crimes. The film shows the inmates discussing casting and arguing about points of plot and performance; it also demonstrates how the prisoners interact physically with one another in rehearsal.
Language
English
Country
Great Britain; United States
Medium
Television; Video
Technical information
Colour / Sound
Year of release
2005
Transmission details
18 Apr 2004 (Channel: BBC4)
Duration
92 mins

Credits

Director
Hank Rogerson; Jilann Spitzmiller
Cinematographer
Shana Hagan
Writer
Hank Rogerson; Jilann Spitzmiller
Music
James Wesley Stemple

Additional Details

Production type
Documentary/Educational/News
Plays
Tempest, The
Subjects
Drama; Shakespeare
Keywords
prisoners; prisons; Shakespeare, William (1564-1616); All-male casts; Rehearsals; Untrained actors
Related items
Arts Centric Midday Matters [02/12/2011]

Notes

Notes
Shot on HDV. The DVD extras include prisoner commentaries, filmmaker commentary, deleted scenes, and performance footage. The DVD is available Region 1 only (10/2007).
General
The PEN prize for prison writing 2010 was given to Hal Cobb, a founding inmate member of Shakespeare Behind Bars, for an essay discussing his ongoing engagement with the role of Prospero. Cobb’s essay is available at http://www.pen.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/4923 (accessed 7/2010).
History
First transmitted on UK television 18 April 2004 (BBC4) in the Storyville series.
Awards
2005 - Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Festival.
Reviews
Melinkoff, Kirk Shakespeare Bulletin (2005) 23, no. 3 (2005) pp 75-80.

Production Company

Name

BBC

Notes
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
Name

Philomath Films

Archive

Name

BFI National Archive

Web
http://www.bfi.org.uk/archive-collections/searching-access-collections/research-viewing-services External site opens in new window
Phone
020 7255 1444
Fax
020 7436 0165
Address
21 Stephen Street
London
W1T 1LN

Online Retailer

Name

amazon.co.uk

Web
http://www.amazon.co.uk External site opens in new window

Record Stats

This record has been viewed 415 times.