My students and I had the honor of hosting Shakespeare Behind Bars‘ Sammie Byron and his wife Barbara on the Oxford campus. In a very short time, Sammie taught us volumes about what Shakespeare does in both the head and the heart.
After describing his experiences with Shakespeare Behind Bars, Sammie opened the floor to questions: the Emory undergraduates asked for his interpretation on fine points of Hamlet and about his experience with Shakespeare’s other plays. Although Sammie spoke about his lengthy incarceration, the students were far more interested in Sammie’s interpretations of Shakespeare than what it was like to be in prison.
“If you could rewrite anything in Hamlet,” one student asked, “what would it be?” Sammie considered the question then said, “I’d change the way women are treated. The men treat Ophelia like a piece of property, and no woman is someone else’s property.”