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Shakespeare Behind Bars

From: Graham Shelby
Length: 03:37

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So a man commits a crime. A terrible crime. He's caught, tried, sentenced and locked up. Then what? What do the rest of us want from the roughly two million inmates currently housed in U.S. prisons? And what do they want for themselves? One group of inmates in a Kentucky prison has made an unusual choice: They're staging a production of Romeo and Juliet. Their goal? To become "better human beings."

Sbb3_small The Luther Luckett Correctional Complex is a medium-security prison just outside of Louisville, Kentucky. It's home to about 1100 felons and one unusual theatre company. It’s an all-inmate ensemble called Shakespeare Behind Bars. For sixteen years, the group has staged plays like Hamlet and Macbeth, doing performances for other inmates and the public.

Shakespeare Behind Bars is now in rehearsals for its next production: Romeo and Juliet. Graham Shelby recently visited Luther Luckett to find out how – and why – this group of convicted felons plans to present Shakespeare’s tale of young love.

Piece Description

The Luther Luckett Correctional Complex is a medium-security prison just outside of Louisville, Kentucky. It's home to about 1100 felons and one unusual theatre company. It’s an all-inmate ensemble called Shakespeare Behind Bars. For sixteen years, the group has staged plays like Hamlet and Macbeth, doing performances for other inmates and the public.

Shakespeare Behind Bars is now in rehearsals for its next production: Romeo and Juliet. Graham Shelby recently visited Luther Luckett to find out how – and why – this group of convicted felons plans to present Shakespeare’s tale of young love.

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Rad

The people in this piece are rad! Great story.

Broadcast History

Produced for WFPL News in Louisville, Kentucky, also aired on WKMS and WEKU.

Transcript

If you're going to stage Romeo and Juliet in a prison, your first challenge is casting.

“Here, as far as personality traits, the feminine is not really embraced,” Hal Cobb says with a laugh. Cobb is a founding member of Shakespeare Behind Bars. He’s played numerous parts over the years. He’s serving a life sentence for murder. He’s also openly gay. “Many people try to project an ultra macho image just to survive in this place and to let down that wall can leave somebody feeling pretty vulnerable,” he says.

Enter inmate number 166200 – Romeo.

She speaks:
O, speak again, bright angel! for thou art
As glorious to this night, being o’er my head
As is a winged messenger of heaven

James Prichard asked to play Romeo because he identifies with the character. “I’ve been in love, I’ve lost love. I’ve taken a life,” he says. “There’s a lot of qualities that Romeo goes through that I’ve...
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Timing and Cues

3:37

Intro and Outro

INTRO:

(NOTE TO STATIONS: Below is the evergreen intro. If you'd like me to write customized intro for Valentine's Day, just send me a message.)

The Luther Luckett Correctional Complex is a medium-security prison just outside of Louisville, Kentucky. Luther Luckett is home to about 1100 felons and one unusual theatre company. It’s an all-inmate ensemble called Shakespeare Behind Bars. For sixteen years, the group has staged plays like Hamlet and Macbeth, doing performances for other inmates and the public.

Shakespeare Behind Bars is now in rehearsals for its next production: Romeo and Juliet. Reporter Graham Shelby recently visited Luther Luckett to find out how – and why – this group of convicted felons plans to present Shakespeare’s tale of young love.

OUTRO:

You can find out more about Shakespeare Behind Bars - and see part of the award-winning documentary about the company that played at the Sundance Film Festival - by visiting the group's website: Shakespearebehindbars.org.

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Related Website

shakespearebehindbars.org