The Big Read Blog (Archive)

Shakespeare in American Communities

"Macbeth" performed by men of the RTA Program in Green Haven Prison, NY State from CultureWorks on Vimeo.

The application deadline for the NEA's Shakespeare in American Communities grant is fast approaching! As communities across the country finish preparing their grants for the March 8th deadline, the Big Read team thought we'd share a video with you that shows the incredible impact that Shakespeare's words still carry, some 400 years after he wrote them. The video captures a June 2011 production of Macbeth that took place in the Green Haven Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison in New York. Both the male actors and the audience members are inmates of Green Haven (female roles are performed by professional actresses).

The production was a part of Rehabilitation Through the Arts (RTA), an organization that brings the creative arts to five prisons in New York State. Founded by Katherine Vockins, RTA uses dance, theater, writing, and visual arts as a means of improving prisoners' social and cognitive skills, which staff members hope will contribute to a successful return to civic life. The program, and this production in particular, are a moving tribute to the power of the arts.

To find out more about Shakespeare in American Communities and the effect it can have on individuals, please visit the NEA website.

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