Hamlet | St. Louis Public Radio

Hamlet

The St. Louis nonprofit Prison Performing Arts has been putting on plays with incarcerated people for 19 years. Here, two women at the penitentiary in Vandalia, Missouri rehearse a scene from "Hip Hop Hamlet." 10/11/18
Jeremy D. Goodwin | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s opening night for “Hip Hop Hamlet” and more than 200 women dressed in baggy, khaki-colored clothes have packed into the gymnasium at the women’s penitentiary in Vandalia, Missouri. They’re eager to watch fellow members of the prison population perform a beat-filled, rap adaptation of the Shakespeare text.

Shakespeare scholars say his work offers ways to get in touch with what makes a person fully human. For the women participating in this show, that plays out at a very basic level.