News and Events

Theatre at Two Rivers 2017 Performance

The Tempest, performed by Theatre at Two Rivers

In spring of 2017 the Two Rivers Theatre Program returned to its roots and produced William Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

This performance was Co-Directed by Anna Crandall, Victoria Spencer, and Patrick Walsh.

Check out our photo gallery for images of the June 3, 2017 performance. Photos were shot by Anke Schuettler, PSU Art and Social Practice MFA student.

Theater at Two Rivers to Perform “Metamorphoses” this fall

This Fall 2016 inmates at Two Rivers Correctional Institution will be performing Metamorphoses. The dates for the public performance are Sept 24th, Oct 1st, Oct 8th. Contact us if you are interested in attending.

Curt Tofteland: Visiting Guest

Film Showing of Shakespeare Behind Bars

Film Showing of Shakespeare Behind Bars

Curt Tofteland, founder of Shakespeare Behind Bars is coming to town and you will not want to miss him! OHOM will be showing Philomath Films’ documentary Shakespeare Behind Bars followed by a talk on Monday, January 18th, at First Unitarian Church, 1011 SW 12th at 7:30 p.m.

Additionally, he will be in Eugene and Portland to deliver two lectures sponsored by the Oregon Humanities center. Get all the details here.

> Curt Tofteland visit
> view trailer
> download flyer
> Oregon Humanities Center: Tofteland Lectures

Women, Prison and the Arts

A Special Event with Visiting Guest Sherrin Fitzer

Women, Prison and the Arts OHOM is always pleased to have visiting guests attend our performances at Two Rivers Correctional Institution. For our September 2015 performance we were graced with a visit by Sherrin Fitzer, administrator of Women & Family Services and founder of the Acting Out Theatre Group at Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln, IL. Along with Carla Grant and Don Kern, co-directors of Theatre at Coffee Creek in Wilsonville, OR we had an in-depth discussion about theater in prison in Illinois and Oregon, addressing issues that matters most for women in prison.

Arts in Prison: Opening Hearts and Minds

A Class Taught by Johnny Stallings

Visit the “Arts in Prison” program at Columbia River Correctional Institution with Johnny Stallings. This group will meet on two consecutive Thursday afternoons: once in prison with adults in custody, and once at the First Unitarian with special guests who have “graduated” from the program and are back in society. Hear the stories, poems and songs of prison inmates and of men recently released from prison. Discuss the subject of arts, crime, and punishment with men who have first-hand experience in the criminal justice system.

Who: First Unitarian Church of Portland Adult Programs
Where: 1034 SW 13th Ave., Portland, OR 97205
When: Thursdays: April 23rd and April 30th, 1 – 3:30 pm

> Visit the First Unitarian Adult Programs page for registration info.

Theatre at Coffee Creek: First Perfomance

First performance for members of the Theatre at Coffee Creek

This February 17, 2015 members of the Theatre at Coffee Creek performed “Unconditional Love”. This was the group’s first performance since the program began in October 2014.

A Tale of Two Rivers

Leontes and his son Mamillius from The Winter's Tale

Leontes and his son Mamillius from The Winter’s Tale

We just wrapped up the performance of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, at Two Rivers Correctional Institution. Full of pageantry and pure, unadulterated joy, it was the most fabulous production yet.

Backdrop for The Winter's Tale

Backdrop for The Winter’s Tale

As the sixth play presented by the inmates, we’ve had years to build confidence with everyone involved. The men knew their abilities and strengths, individually as actors, and as cast and crew. The Department of Corrections (DOC) found a level of trust with OHOM and the inmates, allowing the production to exceed all our expectations—complete with backdrops, garlands, wigs, masks, fake beards, musical instruments, Portland Opera costumes, and even one bear and two sheep suits!

Change for the Good?

But the happy event was marked with sadness and concern. Earlier in the summer, Johnny told the men that their performance of The Winter’s Tale would be the last five-act Shakespeare play he would direct for them. He’d also be reducing his weekly visits to one a month. What a loss! For the 20-plus men, these meetings have provided them the opportunity to share with each other—and find themselves. With the plays and performances, they’ve been able to express themselves through acting. They’ve learned to collaborate as a team. And they’ve discovered and brought to life the world of Shakespeare. In short, they’ve been transformed.

Our sadness extends to the audience, too. This yearly event at Two Rivers has meant a lot to all who have attended: families, friends and the OHOM community. And to the men. They’ve entertained all of us so well—with guts and gusto—in a place that bears so much emotional and societal weight. Such a rich experience for everyone.

The Good News!

But hold on! We have great news! As a result of Johnny’s announcement to the men, a number of individuals have stepped forward to offer their services. The weekly meetings at Two Rivers are back! And plans for more performances are underway. The new program will represent the next incarnation of what Johnny started at Two Rivers eight years ago, including both dialogue and performances. We have wonderful people involved, and some have already completed their DOC volunteer training. Plans are afoot for a meeting as soon as the weather permits. The new volunteers and the men will meet and become acquainted, as they work out a plan for their weekly meetings. We couldn’t be more excited.

Special Guest, Ashley Lucas
Prison Art

“Repose” by Serge Tkachenko

Join us with special guest Ashley Lucas, Director of the Prison Creative Arts Project in Ann Arbor, Michigan: a talk about the importance of art and creative expression for people who are serving time in prison and coming home soon. September 26, 2014, 7:30 PM at the First Unitarian Church of Portland, 1034 SW 13th, no free, donations appreciated.

> download flyer

CREDIT FOR TIME BEING SERVED: an Evening of Stories, Poems & Songs

On Tuesday, May 24,2014 inmates of the recently launched Prison Arts Program at Columbia River Correctional Institution performed for the first time. Held in the cafeteria packed with people, the program was interlaced with original music, poetry and storytelling. This was a rare opportunity for individuals, family and friends of inmates and those connected to OHOM to be audience to the amazing talent of the program participants.

Goldfinches!, a performance by Johnny Stallings

goldfinches_web Join us for a theatrical monologue by Johnny Stallings, Saturday, May 24, 2014, at 7:30 pm at the First Unitarian Church, 1011 SW 12th.

Building a Relationship with the Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization (IRCO)

Drumming at IRCO

Drumming at IRCO

IRCO families at the Oregon Ballet performance of the Nutcracker

IRCO families at the Oregon Ballet performance of the Nutcracker

In the early part of December 2013, when the days and nights were cold, families and children braved the cold to participate in a drumming jam at IRCO. Moved by the recent plight of Syrian refugees, OHOM decided to reach out to the IRCO community and facilitate an arts event that could be shared with both parent and child together. Ghanaian master drummer and dancer, Nii Ardey Allotey led the drumming. Twenty drums were provided from Portland’s drum shop Anansi Beat.

Additionally, OHOM also helped to obtain and facilitate the attendance for over 75 individuals, families and children the Oregon Ballet Theater’s performance of the Nutcracker.

2013 Performance of King Lear



King Lear proved to be a compelling performance. This was our fourth Shakespeare play to be performed by the inmates at Two Rivers Correctional Institution; last year we did “Twelve Angry Men”. There are members of the cast that have performed in more than one of our plays, providing us with the opportunity to see their broad range of skills and talent take on new challenges and grow.

Many of the audience members are returnees as well. This is a rich experience for all of us. Not only do we get the chance to be part of an exquisite performance, either as audience member or performer, but also to engage in conversation in the q&a afterwards and then complete the evening with song.

Getting Costumes for King Lear

a coat for King Lear

Johnny tries on coat for King Lear.

July 8, 2013: We visited the Portland Opera Costume Warehouse to pick out costumes for our September performance of King Lear.

Twelve Angry Men

Program artwork

program artwork by Nancy Scharbach

For 2012, we produced Twevle Angry Men, a drama concerning the jury of a homicide trial. The play was performed for inmates as well as two performance for the outside community, including family and friends of the performers and supporters of Open Hearts Open Minds. We were very fortunate to have Lebanese film director and drama therapist Zeina Daccache attend a performance. She also spent an extra day touring the prison, meeting with the performers where she did a couple of drama therapy exercises and shared some of her film with the men.

Zeina Daccache: Film Director and Drama Therapist

Zeina Daccache

Zeina Daccache, Drama Therapist and Filmmaker

Open Hearts Open Minds was thrilled to host Lebanese film director and drama therapist, Zeina Daccache presenting her film 12 Angry Lebanese, a film of her production of Twelve Angry Men at Roumieh Prison in Lebanon and a video recording of her theatre production Scheherezade in Baabda. Please email us if you would like to see her film, 12 Angry Lebanese.

Twelfth Night

James Franco at Two Rivers Correctional Institution

James Franco at performance of Twelfth Night

In Fall of 2011 we successfully produced our third Shakespeare play, Twelfth Night. Both families and community members were fully entertained. The visitor’s room was transformed into a crowded performance space with a prelude of Elizabethan music greeting the audience as they walked in. Those who have been to previous performanceshad the opportunity to see some of their favorite performers in new rolls.

Read more about the performance and James Franco’s visit in the December 2011 edition of Ruralite.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

A Midsummer Night's Dream performance at Two Rivers

A Midsummer Night’s Dream performance at Two Rivers

We had tremendous fun rehearsing and performing Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Two Rivers prison! We spent a lot of time laughing. It’s a very different play than Hamlet! There are more women’s parts. Wacky love mix-ups! Fairies! You have to be brave to play the King of the Fairies in prison!

The two public performances were “sold out,” and the response was overwhelmingly positive. It was a magical and heart-opening experience!

Bushra Azzouz is making a feature-length documentary film about the project. Filming for A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Prison began on June 19 and ended on October 9, 2010. Now comes the editing! If you want to get involved in this project, let us know. There’s lots to do! Call Johnny at: 503-347-6869.


Read the Oregonian article “Hamlet in prison: Inmates discover the play’s the thing” by Bob Hicks about our 2008 production of Hamlet at Two Rivers prison, this article contains a videoclip of the production!

Read the Seattle Times article by Kathy Aney: “Bard’s genius slips through prison bars”

The Tempest Photos Now Live

A Year of Directing Dangerously

Our very own Patrick Walsh has been published in, a national online theatre commons. He writes about his work and experience directing "The Hamlet Project" at Two Rivers Correctional Institution.

> read the article

The Value of Theater in Prison

A Special Thank-you

Theatre at Coffee Creek is the proud recipient of grants from Spirit Mountain Community Fund, the Collins Foundation, the Autzen Foundation and the Jerry and Donna Smith Family Foundation. Spirit Mountain Community Fund Collins Foundation

Oregon Community Foundation

Oregon Arts Commission

Autzen Foundation

Jerry and Donna Smith Family Foundation

Alanna on the Inside

“All of a sudden, the walls come down and sparks of life and vitality replace the pain and despondency that had been so apparent just moments earlier. It speaks to the need of the human spirit to have creative outlets in order to thrive.”

From the Blog "Alanna on the Inside"
Participant of
Theatre at Coffee Creek
> read more

Hand2 Mouth Performance

OHOM's partnership with the theater group Hand2Mouth helped to bring their performance of 'Pep Talk' to Coffee Creek on April 1, 2015.
> read more

Streaming Video

Ashley Lucas, Director of the Prison Arts Creative Project, visiting after the performance of The Winter's Tale

Ashley Lucas, Director of the Prison Arts Creative Project

You can now stream Ashley Lucas' talk from September 2014.

Film Sampler

A Midsummer Night's Dream in Prison: Film Sampler

A Midsummer Night's Dream in Prison: Film Sampler

> View now