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A Midsummer Night's Lockdown

June 9, 2009

Dozens of journalists, including myself, gathered at San Quentin State Prison on Monday morning hoping to experience a highly anticipated performance of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream by inmates which was scheduled to take place at 10am in the maximum security facility.

We had all gone through a a rigorous security clearance process and were about to enter the prison gates to see the show when a prison spokesperson explained that the performance had been canceled. Representing the Warden's Office, Samuel Robinson told the assembled crowd that the facility had gone into lockdown mode. A lockdown prevents visitors from entering and prisoners are rounded up and confined to their cells. According to a piece in today's Examiner, the lockdown was caused by a piece of missing equipment, which the spokesperson was not at liberty to discuss. Apparently the offending article was located at ten minutes to ten, but by then it was far too late to revoke the lockdown mode.

San Quentin's Director of the Arts in Corrections Program, Steve Emrick, said that this year represents the first time that cast members in a prison production are allowed to use props. In the past, the actors have had to conjure objects using their imaginations -- and the imaginations of their audiences. I wonder if the missing article that caused the security breach was a donkey's head?

The performance will be rescheduled at a later date. In the meantime, check out this great article about last year's San Quentin production of Much Ado About Nothing by's Denise Battista.


  • I was hoping to see it the first time it got postponed. Then the evening show was cancelled. I'm sorry to hear that the morning show got cancelled as well.

    By Blogger Dan Wilson, At June 9, 2009 at 12:53 PM  

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