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Carson-Newman student to debut theater adaptation of acclaimed "Shakespeare Saved My Life"

Campus News | March 30, 2016

(March 30, 2016)—Carson-Newman University’s theatre program will host the debut production of “Shakespeare on the Range,” a stage play adapted from the celebrated book “Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard” by Dr. Laura Bates. Performances will be April 8 and 9 and 7:30 p.m. and April 10 at 2 p.m. in Phoenix Theatre.

The play was written and directed by Carson-Newman senior Momo Smith. It follows Bates’ work with a group of inmates in Indiana’s supermax Wabash Valley Correctional Facility using Shakespeare to facilitate discussion on themes such as revenge, criminality, honor and love.

The story the book tells is something I wanted to see on stage because that is how I like to tell stories,” Smith says. “It is powerful, and relatable if you are in a prison or a classroom—Shakespeare is limitless.”

Bates will be on hand for the theatre debut. A professor at Indiana State University, Bates' work has garnered national media buzz. She has been featured on National Public Radio, Huffington Post and National Geographic.

Associate Professor of Theatre Kyle Biery says all theatre students at Carson-Newman are required to direct, design and co-produce a production as a degree requirement.

“For many, that means choosing a script from an established playwright,” Biery says. “But for Smith, an aspiring storyteller, putting someone else's words on stage did not satisfy.”

A talk-back session will follow the Saturday performance with Bates, Smith and members of the production team.

Tickets are available at the door at $8 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens over the age of 60.

Phoenix Theatre is located on the first floor of Henderson Humanities Building on Carson-Newman’s campus.