Lion Roars

February - March 2009

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Lee Capristo
Director of Publications
Anne Arundel 100

Shakespeare in Prison

All the World's a Stage

by Beth Charlebois  Associate Professor of English

Aren't We All Like Bottom?

Bottom played by Patty Prewitt, gets his ears scratched.

A mother of five and grandmother of 10, Patty Prewitt, 59, has served 22 years of a 50-year prison sentence after being convicted of murdering her husband. Insisting on her innocence, she had turned down a plea bargain of six-seven years at her trial. Her case can now only be resolved through clemency granted by the Governor of Missouri.

While waiting for justice, Patty has become the heart and soul of Prison Performing Arts, bringing her courageous and positive spirit to the troupe and recruiting virtually half of its members. She describes the importance of the program: “This is the desert, you know, and PPA is our little oasis….This is an oasis in the place where nobody wants you to do good, nobody wants you to shine. They want to beat you down; they want to tell you how stupid you are….People come here feeling lower than a snake’s belly, but no one ever lifts them up and shows them what can be.”

As the leader of PPA’s troupe of amateur actors, Patty fittingly played the part of Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She illuminates Bottom’s character from Midsummer Night’s Dream better than any Shakespearean scholar:

“I like Bottom. Aren’t we all kind of Bottom? Well, not everybody; Donald Trump’s not, but most of us are kind of Bottom if we want to excel, but we’re a common person, and we have, not delusions, but we have dreams of being more than we are…but it’s so difficult to do that, to get out of what you are. I’m sure there is a plumber right now singing opera under a sink….Maybe I feel like Bottom because I’ve always been out there fighting windmills, and losing for the most part.”

For more on Patty Prewitt and her case, visit