Additional Courses from Professor Levitt

Performing and Media Arts (PMA) 4801: Advanced Studies in Acting

Prison Theatre
Source: American Prison Theatre

Offered: Fall Semesters

When: Mondays from 7:30 - 10:30 PM

This class enrolls both Cornell undergraduates and recently returned citizens affiliated with the Cornell Prison Education Program. Because enrollment is limited, please contact Professor Levitt at for a permission code to register.This class also qualifies as an elective for the CPEJ Minor. NO PREVIOUS ACTING EXPERIENCE IS REQUIRED!

The class combines the work of community based 501©3, MIRTH, A Theatre Company, the fiscal sponsor for the Phoenix Players, and CPEP alumni. This collaboration with MIRTH/ Phoenix Re-entry brings together Professor Levitt’s decade of experience working with incarcerated populations and joins it with CPEP’s own decade of work with incarcerated people and CPEP’s expanding alumni network and its role in the reentry of former CPEP students. Cornell undergraduates and the MIRTH/Phoenix Players Re-entry members will collaborate in creating and devising a theatre piece that will exponentially expand the knowledge of the power of theatrical expression and the techniques of the Phoenix Players and how those techniques can be applied to the challenges of returning from prison.

All class participants will be asked to attend rehearsals at various points during the spring of 2022 in preparation for a public performance. It may be possible for registered undergraduates to receive an additional 3 credits for the rehearsal and performance in the spring and for CPEP students to receive credit through Continuing Education.

Performing and Media Arts (PMA) 4681- Cages and Creativity: Incarceration in the Arts

Cornell Student working at Auburn Correctional Facility
Source: Prison Theatre Class

Offered: Fall Semesters

When: Wednesdays from 11:30 AM - 1:25 PM

Cages and creativity explores the presence of the arts in prisons in the United States and elsewhere and takes up many of the topics raised by Alywyn Walsh:.. What is “arts behind bars”? What are some of the intentions, and why would people do it? It also signals the range of practices that are to be found--from the development of needlework in male presents through to participatory art projects with young people in prisons to collaborative stage shows. Artists working in criminal justice have a wide range of intentions. For a few, there might be a frisson of the danger and caged energy behind bars that is stimulating to creativity and could add something to their own creative process. The model of art for prisoners-- professional artists staging a show or doing an unplugged music event in a prison--can raise the profile of prisons and punishment.

Using videos, archival material, reading material from tax and articles from various web sources, and in person or Zoom interviews, the class examines the increasing scholarship surrounding arts programs and their efficacy for incarcerated persons. The class will also look at art produced by incarcerated artists as well as art by those who are still practicing after returning home. And finally, the class will explore the increasing scholarship around the impact practicing the arts while incarcerated has on recidivism rates and preparation for re-entry.