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`Lear' changed lives of actors

`Lear' changed lives of actors

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Four months ago, inmates at the Racine Correctional Institution did something not normally associated with prison life: They staged Shakespeare's "King Lear."

The Journal Times followed the production, wrote about it in May - and now we're checking back with the men featured in that past story.

Jonathan Shailor `Lear'

Shailor, chair of the communications department at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, still awaits word on whether he will be allowed to teach another Shakespeare class at RCI. The class proposal was working its way through the prison review process.

"I wanted to get started in August," Shailor said. "But that's not going to happen."

In the meantime, Shailor is also seeking approval from university and prison officials to write about the experience and include excerpts from inmate journals.

Ken Spears `Oswald' and `Old Man'

In a letter this summer, Spears called his participation in the play a "life-altering process."

"… (A)ll of us were changed for the better and we all have embraced that change, that is the measure and the blessing of what "Doc" Shailor brought to us," Spears wrote.

Spears expected to make a move this summer to a minimum security setting, possibly at the Fox Lake Correctional Institution. But if he does leave RCI, he still wants to continue involvement in theater.

"It's going to be hard for me to start anything at Fox Lake because I will be in minimum and have to get approved to work with the men in medium, but it can be done," Spears wrote. "My plan is to obtain a copy of the script for `Doubt,' currently on Broadway in New York and getting rave reviews."

Travail Walls

Walls, who played the villain Edmund, continues to serve his time at the Racine Correctional Institution.

He recently graduated from a culinary arts program. (See today's A+ section for details.)

David `Fly' Williams

David Williams had hoped to perform in "King Lear."

But just weeks before performance, Williams found himself tossed off the cast for a prison rules violation.

Four months later and Williams is seeking another acting opportunity - this time outside the fences of RCI.

"I am released," said Williams, who goes by the name Fly, in a phone call. After serving 18 years for two counts of armed robbery, Williams was paroled early this month.

"I am trying to pursue my acting career," said a determined Williams. "I am going to be one of the greatest actors in the world."

But first, he is searching for a day job.

"I made a promise to my mother before she died, God bless her soul, that I will make her proud of me," Williams said.


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