Shakespeare Prison Project

About the Project

The Shakespeare Prison Project works with up to 20 prisoners at a time, and culminates in the performance of a Shakespeare play for families, fellow inmates, and guests. The Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble has run the project since 2006, and is currently operating at both Borallon Training and Correctional Centre and the Southern Queensland Correctional Centre.

The skills required to produce and perform a Shakespeare play are valuable life skills which are generally not fostered in the prison environment: communication, collaboration, emotional bravery and transparency, mutual support, and above all, empathy. The project also challenges commonly held notions about who prisoners are and what they are capable of.

The project utilises a combination of Shakespeare text and drama games, in particular Theatre of the Oppressed techniques developed by Brazilian Theatre-maker and activist Augusto Boal. These are designed to create an atmosphere of trust and emotional safety for the participants, to invite them to connect their personal experiences to their acting, and to tease out themes that the prisoners want to explore. A Shakespeare play is then chosen to rehearse and perform based on these themes.

"When the audience stood up and applauded... At that moment I felt like an actual GOOD person... a sense of accomplishment... I was actually PROUD of myself." - 2013 Participant

If you are able to support the Shakespeare Prison Project, or know an organisation who might, please click here, or get in contact with us.

You can also find QSE Artistic Director Rob Pensalfini's book Prison Shakespeare: For These Deep Shames and Great Indignities here.

Find out more about the history of QSE's Shakespeare Prison Project

Shakespeare Prison Project Press

Upcoming performance of The Tempest at the Southern Queensland Correctional Centre


Project Manager: Liliana Macarone
Phone: +61 (0)411 172 390