Thanks to all who participated in our Summer 2020 series! The discussion series is now concluded, but you can still watch the video-taped introductions by our film experts and the films on your own time. Throw a DIY watch party! For more information on the series: Virtual International Film Festival.

Video introduction by SHASS faculty for each film are available to the public. Links to the featured films are open to current MIT students, faculty and staff.

Introduction to the film

By Diana Henderson


Watch the film

Watch the film here: Shakespeare Behind Bars

About the film

Henderson’s pick is: Shakespeare Behind Bars , a documentary by Hank Rogerson (2005).

Shakespeare Behind Bars is an unexpectedly delightful documentary that follows the casting, rehearsal, and presentation of Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest, by prisoners inside Kentucky’s Luther Luckett Correctional Complex. Winner of eight film festival awards, Shakespeare Behind Bars documents these remarkably unique actors preparing. Ultimately, we get to see the human psyche unfold in all of its complexities, as these men, ostracized from society, reveal their kindness, generosity and faith. In the process, we accompany them as they discover the power of truth, forgiveness and transformation.


Also of interest

  • Ken Burns dir. series College Behind Bars, the story of a dozen incarcerated men and women trying to earn college degrees in the rigorous Bard Prison Initiative. The four-part documentary series reveals the transformative power of education.
  • Professor Craig Wilder (History) is a senior fellow at the Bard Prison Initiative, where he has served as a visiting professor, commencement speaker, and academic advisor.
  • Professor Helen Elaine Lee (CMS/W) has taught creative writing to incarcerated men in Massachusetts for over a decade. Read her Visible Men.


Diana Henderson
  • Professor of Literature at MIT

Diana Henderson is the Arthur J. Conner (1888) Professor in Literature with areas of research and interest that include Shakespeare, gender studies, early modern poetry and drama, modernism, media studies, and world drama.