On a recent Tuesday night, 16 women gathered backstage and changed into costumes to play their roles in a production of Shakespeare’s “Othello.”
The space hummed with the giddy electricity of actors preparing to perform in front of an audience. The actress playing Iago, wearing brown slacks, a white shirt and a dark-red sash (which also holstered a foam sword), huddled up with Othello to do some last-minute line cramming.
Brabantio tucked her long, dark-blond hair up inside a hat. Cassio smirked and held up a spare handkerchief, jokingly noting that this all-important prop went missing onstage during the previous week’s performance. And Desdemona pinched the sides of her white, long-sleeved, knee-length dress and girlishly skipped across the stage.
Even before they began speaking the Bard’s lines, Shakespeare had temporarily liberated these women from their circumstances by giving them a temporary excuse to wear clothes not stamped with the letters MDOC — for Michigan Department of Corrections. READ THE REST HERE