Shakespeare may seem like an odd match for a group of hardened criminals, but Jack Hitt found that they understand the Bard on a level that most of us might not. It's a play about murder and its consequences, performed by murderers, living out the consequences. The program these prisoners were involved in is run by Prison Performing Arts.
Jack Hitt begins his story about a group of prisoners at the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center who are rehearsing and staging a production of Hamlet. The man who plays Hamlet gets in character by recalling times he's wanted to hurt people, like the crime that sent him to prison, in which he shot two people and left them for dead. Big Hutch, who plays Horatio, explains how it would work if you set Hamlet in a prison, and why it would actually improve a flaw in the plot. You can see video clips of the Prison Performing Arts performances online. (30 minutes)