Lefebvre describes how ‘space is lived not represented (or conceived)’ in the context of his spatial triad of perceived, conceived and lived spaces. This article focuses on the extent to which Shakespeare can enable those who feel imprisoned (whether literally or through social, mental, physical or economic constraints) to expand the space in which they exist. Drawing on the work of Lefebvre and Foucault in their consideration of spatial creation, manipulation and alteration by the social experiences within it, I develop on these theories to focus specifically on the use of Shakespeare's plays to evolve these, often constraining, spaces into somewhere that gives the participants the freedom and space to explore alternatives to their previous experiences of life. This article considers the impact of using Shakespeare as a method of creating space for a group of men in Leicester Prison as part of their 2017 Talent Unlocked Arts Festival.
Rowan Mackenzie is a prison Shakespeare practitioner in multiple UK prisons, and won a Prisoner Learning Alliance Outstanding Individual Award in 2019 for her work in HMP Gartree. She is completing a PhD on Creating Space for Shakespeare for people with mental health issues, learning disabilities, within the criminal justice system and other marginalized groups.