Rounding Shakespeare
in Perpetual Anticipation

[A Company Debriefs]

Photographs by Georgia Oetker

       

Georgia Oetker, without remuneration, flew six thousand miles to take photographs for LSW's 'Rounding Shakespeare'.  'Rounding Shakespeare' was given as a gift to Arts in Corrections at the California Men's Colony State Prison.  At an organisational meeting in advance of the production it was reported to LSW through the AIC liaison that, amongst many other items, Georgia would be allowed to enter the prison for a week to make a photographic record for LSW.  During the course of rehearsals - at another meeting at which LSW was not permitted to attend - it was decided that Georgia could only photograph for one day.  No reason was given.  On the day previous to the agreed date for the photography it was decided that Georgia would have to be followed by an institutional representative.  Georgia fulfilled her commitment.  She came as promised for the entire week.  In the extraordinary record that will follow - created in but a few hours - Georgia got an amazing overview.  During the week she'd built the trust of the 30 men involved.  It was, in fact, the same respect that the men had found for and about themselves and each other.  LSW was delighted to provide food for the company following their debrief and for an educational awards scheme for other inmates.  It meant a lot to the men involved.  What follows is a remarkable and privileged document.  There are, sadly, no production photos of 'Rounding Shakespeare' itself.  Georgia and LSW had been promised these could be taken.  The institutional representative, however, decided on the spur of the moment that he had to go home.  No alternative was supplied.  Georgia was walked to her rented car and the camera was, once again, locked inside.  Time, it seemed, was to be curtailed.  This amazing document, however, isn't and proudly remains as testament.     

 

  

'Listen,' Fred says directly, 'I'm 43.  You people don't remember the real Crips.' (The Crips are one of the two largest black gangs in LA). 
'I've seen them die.  All of them.  None of you will remember.  You understand me.'  Fred now gives a speech worthy of Shakespeare's Henry V. 
Vividly he blazes through a list of colourful names; gang martyrs all:  All vividly real to him.  For these moments they live again.
All were enraptured.  As the Bard did, Fred was making this rich history live.   'You give that speech outside as a general audition for a Shakespearean company, Fred,'
Bruce responded when Fred had finished, 'and I defy them NOT to hire you.  If they don't it will be their loss - and it will simply be through their own misplaced fear.'

 

  

 

'I've struggled to keep my mind,' Josh says.  'They can take everything else.  I won't let them destroy that.'

 

 

 

Herbert wasn't sure he wanted to participate initially. 'I didn't want to play the fool', he remembers.
'Now we're 'friends' he said. 'In prison you don't have friends.  Outside I never sat in a room with white men and Hispanics as equals'.


 'You've broken my heart of stone', Steve says.  'For years I've felt nothing.'

 

   

 

'Please give a photo to my three year old daughter to remember me by', Jakarei (21) says

 

Let this be hope for her.  Daddy did her proud.

 

 

Theatrical trust enters the room

'Please - PLEASE - don't forget me,' Leroy asks repeatedly.

 

Leroy's Othello, with its soul of hidden sun, will long be remembered.

 

 

'You've given me a life,' Antoine says. 'This is the kind of drug I always looked and hoped for.'

   

Antoine's Rosalind was a force of nature itself.  'There's something burning in him,' Georgia says.

   

After seeing his picture published in a positive regard in the Los Angeles Times, Dey sits in the corner and weeps.

 

'When I left the last time,' Bruce said at the Awards presentation, 'Octavio said to me:  'I won't forget what you told me.' 
'Now,' Bruce continued, 'I want to thank Tavio for the courage he's shown us all'.

Kevin was Rounding Shakespeare's 'Director of Media & Communications'.  He also was responsible for the lighting and decor.

'I was a businessman outside, Bruce,' Tommy says.  'I admire your professionalism.'

   

'I've done a lot of R&B and hip-hop outside,' Perry notes, 'but I never dreamed I could do anything like this.  Thank you.'

 

 

'We few'

 

'We happy few'

 

   We band of brothers  

 

Bless Georgia.  She understands LSW's demand that we should all 'listen and respond'.  She knows well that 'the eyes have it'!