July 27, 2006
Santa Clara, Calif. - Many people who visit San Quentin prison would not say that it was a great experience, but sophomore basketball player Calvin Johnson is not one of those people. He spent Monday afternoon at the prison's Garden Chapel putting on Shakespeare's "The Tempest" with a group of Santa Clara students in his Acting One class.
"It was a great experience for me," said Johnson. "Everyone has their image of what people in prison are like, but this experience taught me that they are just people trying to make something good out of their lives. I think that the performance was fun for the prisoners there and we enjoyed being there and bringing something positive into their lives. I hope to go back there and volunteer in the future."
Playing the role of Ferdinand in "The Tempest", Johnson admitted having some nerves before his performance.
"I was a little nervous going into it for two reasons. First, doing Shakespeare plays is hard, and second, I was not sure how everyone there would react. But it was great and I think that everyone had a good time."
Johnson got into acting on a whim this past spring when he decided to sign up for an acting class and so far he is glad that he took that step.
"I just thought that acting class might be interesting and something different," said the Morton, Texas native. "I had never done any kind of acting in high school, but I am like it so far and I am thinking about making acting my minor."
The trip to San Quentin was organized by SCU professor and assistant theater director Aldo Billingslea. The five-student troupe also performed parts of "Othello" and "Henry V" to the delight of dozens of inmates.
To read the story in the Mercury News about the students trip to San Quentin, click here.