Today I went to San Quinton State Prison. The wind was full force pelting me with sideways rain as I approached the castle looking structure. As I waited for an escort into the caged institution the clouds parted and a large rainbow arched over the facility.
I was there to work with Suraya Keating's class she teaches through Marin Shakespeare Company for inmates serving life sentences. The class was also hosting 2 other visiters from the outside: Deborah French Frisher & Gary Roucher (Drama Therapy Professors from CIIS).
Check out this video from the production these guys did June 15th 2009:
When I arrived the men were working on Tableau's depicting aspects Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. After the tableaus I facilitated a rhythmic variation of complete the image. I asked one of the men to start a "stomp and clap" beat, then the rest of us joined in. I stepped into the middle of the circle & struck a pose I saw one of the men take during a tableau. Next I invited someone else to step into the circle & place there body in relation to mine "completing" the image. I stepped out & let another man complete the image. After a few transformations of the image I invited the men in the middle of the circle to hold their positions and freestyle a dialogue to the stomp and clap" beat. This was fresh, as the men were quite spontaneous with freestyle's that touched on core concepts of Romeo and Juliet.
I spoke with one of the men after the class who told me about the work he does with youth groups from the inner city who visit the facility. He told me how he encourages youth to think critically about "the game" and I was reminded of Stanley Tookie Williams who was executed at San Quinton on 12/13/05. The man I was speaking with said "that was a sad day" ... RIP TOOKIE