Theatre of Empowerment | Intellect Skip to content
Drama Therapy with Incarcerated, Criminalized and Justice-Impacted Populations
  • ISSN: 2054-7668
  • E-ISSN: 2054-7676


This article is an updated assessment of ‘The Shakespeare Prison Project’ (SPP, Wisconsin), informed in part by post-COVID-19 reflections. Founder and artistic director Jonathan Shailor provides an exploration of the theory and practice that informs his work, which he calls the Theatre of Empowerment: storytelling, dialogue and performance, in the service of personal and social evolution. The key to understanding this work is seeing the prison theatre ensemble as a ‘community of practice’ that cultivates the virtues of individual empowerment, relational responsibility and moral imagination. The author tests these claims with a preliminary analysis of participants’ stories and draws conclusions from this analysis that will inform the next chapter of ‘The Shakespeare Prison Project’: Shakespeare’s Mirror, an approach that connects themes from Shakespeare’s plays with the personal narratives of incarcerated actors.


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