Performing New Lives

Prison Theatre

by Julia Taylor, Judy Dworin, Brent Buell, Teya Sepinuck, Meade Palidofsky, Curt Tofteland, John McCabe-Juhnke, Jodi Jinks, Jonathan Shailor, Sharon Lajoie, Amy Dowling, Jean Trounstine, Laura Bates, Elizabeth Charlebois, Agnes Wilcox

Performing New Lives draws together some of the most original and innovative programs in contemporary prison theatre. Leading prison theatre directors and practitioners discuss the prison theatre experience first-hand, and offer valuable insights into its role, function, and implementation.

A wide range of prison theatre initiatives are discussed, from long-running, high-profile programs such as Curt Tofteland's "Shakespeare Behind Bars" in LaGrange, Kentucky, to fledgling efforts like Jodi Jinks' "ArtsAloud" project in Austin, Texas. The book offers unique insights into the many dimensions of the prison theatre experience, including: negotiating the rules and restrictions of the prison environment; establishing trust, teaching performance skills and managing crises; building relationships and dealing with conflicts; and negotiating public performances and public perceptions. Excerpts of interviews with inmates, and a conversation between practitioners in the final chapter, reveal the impact that prison theatre programs have on the performers themselves, as well as audience members, and the wider community.

Exploring prison theatre processes and theory with insights into how it works in practice, and how to replicate it, this book is essential reading for drama therapists, theatre artists, and prison educators, as well as academics.


  • Jessica Kingsley Publishers; November 2010
  • ISBN: 9780857002884
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF or secure ePub format
  • Title: Performing New Lives
  • Author: Julia Taylor (contrib.); Judy Dworin (contrib.); Brent Buell (contrib.); Teya Sepinuck (contrib.); Meade Palidofsky (contrib.); Curt Tofteland (contrib.); John McCabe-Juhnke (contrib.); Jodi Jinks (contrib.); Jonathan Shailor (ed.); Sharon Lajoie (contrib.); Amy Dowling (contrib.); Jean Trounstine (contrib.); Laura Bates (contrib.); Elizabeth Charlebois (contrib.); Agnes Wilcox (contrib.)
  • Imprint: Jessica Kingsley Publishers

In The Press

(...) this is a thought-provoking collection that effectively rehearses some of the arguments for prison theatre in a straightforward, accessible and engaging manner - eloquently describing not only the practice, but also its rationale.