Sentenced to Shakespeare

In Berkshire, Mass., juvenile delinquents study Shakespearean texts and stage plays instead of traditional sentences.
by | July 15, 2010

In Berkshire County, Mass., some juvenile offenders are sentenced to put on Shakespeare performances. Voice of America reports the Shakespeare in the Courts program gives teens scenes to perform instead of community service hours to fulfill, in hopes of helping them develop communication skills, manage anger and build up self-esteem. A Berkshire County Juvenile Court judge selects teens to work together in reciting plays including “Hamlet,” “Julius Caesar” and “Henry V.” At the end of the 10- to 14-week program, teens put on a performance for their family members, lawyers and teachers. The program, supported by grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, has had over 200 teens complete the program since it originated. Receiving national recognition, the program was featured on The Colbert Report and received the White House’s Coming Up Taller award.