Shakespeare Behind Bars by Jean Trounstine
The Power of Drama In A Women's Prison

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Synopsis

A deeply stirring account of one woman's experience teaching drama to women in prison.

I began to understand that female prisoners are not "damaged goods" and to recognize that most of these women had toughed it out in a society that favors others-- by gender, class, or race. They are Desdemonas suffering because of jealous men, Lady Macbeths craving the power of their spouses, Portias disguised as men in order to get ahead, and Shylocks who, being betrayed, take the law into their own hands.

So writes Jean Trounstine in Shakespeare Behind Bars. In this gripping account, Trounstine who spent ten years teaching at Framingham Women's Prison in Massachusetts, focuses on six inmates who, each in her own way, discover in the power of great drama a way to transcend the painful constraints of incarceration. We meet:

* Dolly, a fiftyish grandmother who brings her knitting to classes and starts a battered-women's group in prison
*Bertie, a Jamaican beauty estranged from her homeland, torn with guilt, and shunned for her crime
* Kit, a tough, wisecracking con who stirs up trouble whenever she can-- until she's threatened with losing her kids
* Rose, an outsider in the prison community who lives with HIV and eventually gains acceptance through drama
* Rhonda, a college-educated leader whose life falls apart when her father dies and who struggles in prison to reestablish her roots
* Mamie, a nurse in the free world, now the prison gardener who makes cards with poetry and dried flowers and battles her own illness behind bars

Shakespeare Behind Bars is a uniquely powerful work that gives voice to forgotten women, shed a compassionate light on a dark world, and proves the redemptive power of art and education.
 

About Jean Trounstine

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Jean Trounstine is a professor of humanities at Middlesex Community College who has won many awards and grants for her work. She has extensive experience in theatre and an M.F.A. in drama from Brandeis University. She is the cofounder of the women's branch of Changing Lives Through Literature, an educational alternative to prison, and the coeditor of a book by the same name. She lectures frequently and has been featured on The Today Show, Voice of America, and The Connection, and in more than thirty articles nationwide. Her writing has been published in Working Woman, The Southwest Review, The Boston Globe Magazine, and many other publications throughout the country. She lives with her husband in Massachusetts.
 
Published February 19, 2001 by St. Martin's Press. 208 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Shakespeare Behind Bars

Kirkus Reviews

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Bertie plays Bianca in The Taming of the Shrew, and afterwards she writes in her journal, “I know now I am somebody.” We learn not only what the women think of Shakespeare, but also what they think of their prison lives.

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Publishers Weekly

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Teachers who think their students are tough might find inspiration in Trounstine's 10-year stint teaching creative writing and theater in a high security Massachusetts state women's prison. Wry jokes

Feb 01 2001 | Read Full Review of Shakespeare Behind Bars: The ...

Publishers Weekly

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Teachers who think their students are tough might find inspiration in Trounstine's 10-year stint teaching creative writing and theater in a high security Massachusetts state women's prison.

| Read Full Review of Shakespeare Behind Bars: The ...

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