An upcoming production of Cincinnati Ballet’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream will feature eight non-dancing extras recruited from a nearby correctional facility in the roles of Roman guards.
The company had been looking for “strong-looking men” to play the guard roles, and had posted a flyer at a local gym. John Baron, the correctional center’s executive director, saw the flyer and responded to it.
The men—Gary Goodloe, Justin Boettcher, Ricky Price, and Leonard Martin—are undergoing rehabilitation for nonviolent felonies. They will be accompanied by security guards.
Helen Magers, program director at River City Correctional Center, where the volunteer performers come from, said, “These volunteers are men that will soon rejoin society, and they have been choisen because of their positive behavior and the fact that none of them have ever committed a serious crime.” She added, “They have so little experience having fun and enjoying themselves, but they couldn’t keep the smiles off their faces after their first rehearsal.”
Price, who was released earlier this week but returned to keep his commitment to the company, told the Cincinnati Enquirer that the experience has inspired him to take dance lessons.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs September 23-25 at the Aronoff Center for the Arts.