Webinar with Rowan MacKenzie: Shakespeare and prison learning

Home > Webinar with Rowan MacKenzie: Shakespeare and prison learning

15 July 2020

Over the lock down period The Prisoner Learning Alliance has been running its Wednesday Webinar series in which inspirational people, passionate about making a difference in the field of Prison Learning, are invited to discuss to their work and take questions from the listeners. 

Listen to the Webinar with Rowan MacKenzie here.

Rowan MacKenzie, PhD student at the University of Birmingham’s Shakespeare Institute speaks with Jess Plant, director of the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance, about her inspiring work bringing Shakespeare into prisons.

After discovering Shakespeare-focused theatre companies operating in American prisons, Rowan was surprised to discover that there weren’t similar organisations working in prisons throughout the UK. Extremely passionate about the learning opportunities available through studying Shakespeare, Rowan was inspired to form her own Shakespeare group. Starting out at HMP Gartree, Rowan convinced the governor to give one  production of Macbeth, performed by prisoners, a chance… two years later Gartree’s Gallowfield Players is a highly successful, non-hierarchical theatre company where prisoners have sourced their own donations and, prior to lockdown, were working on a performance of their own backstory to the Tempest.

Rowan explores the impact her work has had on prisoners across the country and discusses how Shakespeare has enabled them to develop new skills and has broadened their sense of identity

Rowan explores the impact her work has had on prisoners across the country and discusses how Shakespeare has enabled them to develop new skills and has broadened their sense of identity, noting that many prisoners see themselves only as Shakespearian actors when in front of the audience. Rowan also talks about some of the challenges the lockdown has brought about, with prisoners no longer to work on their performances. However, she has continued to support them by providing mixed ability Shakespeare worksheets available to prisoners across the country. You can download Rowan’s resources from our In-Cell Activity Hub.

Click here to find out more about Rowan’s work and, to listen to other Wednesday Webinars, check out The PLA SoundCloud.

 

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