What Fools These Mortals Be

What Fools These Mortals Be is an inventive retelling of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream performed as a series of tableau vivantes (living pictures) by a group of 14 formerly incarcerated women. The project is a collaboration between The Circle Project and Vancouver artist Adad Hannah.

The project is a collaboration between The Circle Project and Vancouver artist Adad Hannah.

Behind the scenes

Nine of the women participants were recently released from federal prison and living in transition houses in the Vancouver region.

They were joined by six formerly incarcerated women who had worked with The Circle Project since 2019.

The group took part in a series of studio workshops exploring what form the project could take.

After several weeks Jess Hanley suggested staging Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Working with a professional crew, the women spent three weeks constructing sets, props, and costumes to be used in the production.

We could all instantly see the potential of the idea and the group quickly coalesced around designing and planning its execution.

The resulting silent tableaux vivants were shot on the final weekend of the month.

They then moved in front of the camera, assuming all the characters in Shakespeare’s play.