May 22, 2018 3:05 PM

Shakespeare Corrected creates theatrical experiences intended to inspire

What originally began as a personal project for Alex Miller, associate professor of theatre and dance at Millikin University, has become one of the School of Theatre and Dance's most unique curricular programs.

Shakespeare Corrected brings Millikin students together with incarcerated and disadvantaged populations to collaborate and create a theatrical experience intended to inspire transformation and redemption in students, participants and their families.

Beginning with building skills through monologues and discussion, the nine-month program culminates in a series of performances of a full scale Shakespeare play for audiences of friends, family and other inmates. With each season, the program is demonstrating how the arts can literally change lives.

Shakespeare Corrected

Photo courtesy of the Herald & Review

As part of the program, Millikin students work with facilities and venues in Decatur, Ill., including the Decatur Correctional Center, Boys and Girls Club, Phoenix Academy and Webster-Cantrell Hall. This year's class had 16 students divided into teams to direct productions at each venue. This year's production was "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

"This is all their work," Miller said in a recent interview with the Herald & Review. "They own it. It is about the people who are volunteering. It is training people to think beyond themselves. It breaks down stereotypes and biases that we unknowingly hold in our heads."

Each play is like any other production: Directors bring together sets, costumes, lighting and publicity for each show. Like many Millikin classes, Shakespeare Corrected is a Performance Learning opportunity.

The Shakespeare Corrected program began seven years ago when Miller brought the program to the Decatur Correctional Center. It was added as a course last year, allowing Millikin students to expand the program to other locations.

"It is a very humbling and cool experience," said Annie Magan, a junior theatre major from Carmel, Ind. "I love theatre and the creative aspect, but I have always loved helping people. This experience has made me completely rethink my career."

Shakespeare Corrected
Photo courtesy of the Herald & Review