The Shakespeare Prison Project Widely Celebrated
Megale Taylor was introduced to Shakespeare in the Racine County Correctional Center through the Shakespeare Prison Project. The project was developed by UW-Parkside communication professor Jonathon Shailor, who is now teaching a conflict resolution course in the correctional center.
The Shakespeare Prison Project, which ran from 2004-2008 at Racine Correctional Institution, involved prisoners in an annual nine-month process of studying, rehearsing, and performing a single Shakespeare play. There were 44 inmates involved as performers with an additional 600 inmates as audience members.
Participants kept journals and reflected on the meaning of the plays in relation to their own lives. They also developed their skills in self awareness and self-expression, listening, teamwork, problem-solving, and conflict resolution.
During his time with the Shakespeare Prison Project, Megale played The Fool in King Lear, Roderigo in Othello, Stephano in The Tempest, and Marc Anthony in Julius Caesar. He was released from prison in 2010, and since that time has been working and enrolled at North Central Technical College in Wausau (on schedule to earn his associate's degree in computer services in Spring 2014). Megale has also performed with the River District Theatre Company in Wausau.
The Shakespeare Prison Project has been widely celebrated and featured in major media outlets, including The New York Times, and National Public Radio.
Over the past few years Professor Shailor has been reconnecting with alumni of the project - former prisoners who have been released from prison, and who are building new lives. Professor Shailor calls this new chapter in their work together Shakespeare Beyond Bars; "we talk and plan a presentation over the phone for a period of months, and then the performer comes to UW-Parkside to share his story, and his love of Shakespeare."
Megale visited the UW-Parkside campus September 15, and performed with Professor Shailor in Studio A in the Rita Tallent Picken Center for Arts and Humanities. They performed scenes from the plays they worked on together from 2004 to 2008.
For more on the Shakespeare Prison Project, including videos, photos and links to media coverage check check out the Shakespeare Prison Project blog.