Johnny Stallings began a weekly Dialogue Group at Two Rivers Correctional Institution in July of 2006. It is ongoing. Topics for discussion include things like Love and Freedom and Happiness. The conversations last three hours, with about 12 to 18 participants. After about two years, a member of the group asked Johnny if he would be interested in doing a play with them. In 2008, Johnny directed Hamlet there. Nancy Scharbach did the costumes and props. It was the first time that inmates in an Oregon prison had performed a play by Shakespeare. Two years later, in 2010, Johnny and Nancy collaborated to produce "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at TRCI. Bushra Azzouz brought in a film crew eight times. She is currently working to finish a feature-length documentary film titled "A Midsummer Night's Dream in Prison."
Two Rivers prison is a three hour drive from Portland. After "Winter's Tale," in 2015, Johnny decided that he would only be able to go out to the prison once a month, rather than once a week. At this point, Open Hearts Open Minds suddenly grew. A team of people, including Johnny and Nancy, began facilitating the Dialogue Group on a weekly basis. Currently, in 2018, the team includes: Jude Russell, Deborah Buchanan, Bill Faricy, Dick Willis, Kristen Sagan and Bushra Azzouz.
"A Midsummer Night's Dream" was followed by Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" in 2011. In 2012 we did a non-Shakespeare play: "Twelve Angry Men" by Reginald Rose. Then back to Shakespeare with "King Lear" and "A Winter's Tale," in 2013 and 2014.
In 2015 Johnny Stallings co-directed Hamlet at Two Rivers with Anna Crandall, Victoria Spencer, Patrick Walsh and Todd Oleson. Since 2016, there are two separate groups--the Dialogue Group and the Two Rivers Theatre group. In 2016, Anna, Victoria and Patrick directed "Metamorphoses" by Mary Zimmerman. In 2017 the same team directed Shakespeare's "The Tempest." In late 2017, Todd Oleson directed "A Christmas Carol."
For 2018 we have a brand new team of directors: Diane Kondrat, Rich Wattenberg, Jake Merriman, Sarah McGregor and Michelle Milne. Public performances of this year's play will be on Saturdays: September 22 and 29. If you would like to attend the play contact Johnny at email@example.com.
Bushra Azzouz filmed our production of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in 2010. She brought a film crew to the prison eight times and filmed rehearsals, performances, group dialogues and individual interviews. She is currently working to finish editing the film. If you would like to help with fundraising for the film, contact Johnny Stallings at firstname.lastname@example.org.