Transformative Play in Pericles Behind Bars


  • Niels Herold Oakland University


This essay examines the 20th anniversary production of Pericles by the Shakespeare Behind Bars theater program at the Luther Luckett Correctional Complex as an illustrative example of the "ordinary miracles" performed through the SBB's process of transformative play. Beginning with the company's initial disappointment with the play as a co-authored and ensemble piece, the essay traces Pericles' ability to speak to the individual lives of prison actors seeking acceptance and rehabilitation.

Author Biography

Niels Herold, Oakland University

Niels Herold is Professor of English at Oakland University where he teaches Shakespeare and Early Modern Culture. His writing about Shakespeare in prisons appears in Native Shakespeares and in his monograph, Prison Shakespeare and the Purpose of Performance — an exploration of the ways in which prison theater re-animates certain tropes, conditions, and performance modes of the early modern theater. Herold was invited to contribute the essay entry on "Prison Theater" for the Cambridge Guide to the Worlds of Shakespeare. He regularly takes Oakland students to Luther Luckett Correctional Complex in Kentucky for Shakespeare Behind Bars productions, while returned citizens from SBB have visited his Shakespeare seminars in Michigan.






Appropriations in Performance