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Rated NR · 2006

There's something extremely compelling about seeing hardened felons putting on a classic play with the enthusiasm of giddy schoolgirls. Like many of us, these violent men undoubtedly considered Shakespeare highbrow and stuffy in the outside world, but in attempting to find the truth of it all as incarcerated actors, they discover elements universal enough to apply to themselves, and open up to the troubles they've seen and caused. Thanks to this documentary, however, you don't have to get arrested to watch them tap into their inner Stanislavskis. It's to everyone's benefit that these men have gained a better understanding of themselves through art, and it's to your benefit as a moviegoer that director Hank Rogerson has documented the discovery via his art. If you've previously appreciated the likes of OT: Our Town (Compton high-schoolers do Thornton Wilder) or This So-Called Disaster (famous actors directed by Sam Shepard in his own play), Shakespeare Behind Bars is another worthy addition to the "unusual drama department" subgenre of documentary.
Director: Hank Rogerson
Producer: Hank Rogerson and Jilann Spitzmiller

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