For Appointment Call Us at 0473 196 815

Shakespeare inspires Qld inmates

Inmates at a Queensland jail have taken to Shakespeare with their second performance of one of his world renowned plays. The latest rendition of Julius Caesar was performed this month at the Borallon Maximum Security Prison, west of Brisbane. Behind rolls of razor wire and heavy locked doors, a scene of violence, espionage and murder unfolded. The group of inmates at Borallon Correctional Centre have been learning their lines for three months. None of the stars in the production of Julius Caesar can be named for privacy reasons. One of inmates, plays the part of Mark Antony. He has been behind bars for about four-and-a-half-years “I was convicted of armed robbery,”

he said. He says immersing himself in Shakespeare has given him a new outlook on life. “I’m actually looking forward to getting out and watching plays when I get out, it would be good,”

he said. The inmate says he first signed up because of the prospect of meeting drama teachers. “That’s how I first heard about it but I’ve done a little bit of acting in primary school and stuff like that … I honestly enjoyed doing it,”

he said. “I thought I would have a crack at it.” He says he even felt a connection with the character he was playing.

“I’m very loyal to my friends and family and stuff like that, as is Mark Antony, but I suppose they saw something in me that Mark Antony had as well – I think that’s why they gave me this person to play,”

he said. ‘Social laboratory’ The project was developed by Dr Rob Pensalfini from the University of Queensland’s Shakespeare’s Ensemble. He says it is the second time in Australian history that Shakespeare has been performed inside a jail. Dr Pensalfini was also behind the production of the drama, The Tempest, in the same jail in 2006. He says he was inspired of the idea from a similar project in the United States.

“So theatre becomes a laboratory, it’s a social laboratory,” Dr Pensalfini said. “It’s a safe space, in which we can experiment with actions, with strategies in our lives, with values.” Positive outlook Senior psychologist Mary McKenzie manages the prisoners’ education and vocational training. She says it is important to give inmates a positive outlook they can take back into the community upon release. “I believe that once you plant a seed, and a good seed, a good positive seed, it’s more than likely to follow them into the community – they’ll never forget this experience,” she said.

She says she is not worried that the play is too violent. The weapons used in the assassination scene are retractable knives.

“I don’t think it’s too much – the general population know about violence but they’re expressing it in a pro-social manner in the form of Shakespeare, so no, I don’t believe it’s going to impact on them in a negative way,” she said.

Leave a Comment!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *