How RTA Works

"Where the prison consensus teaches that hard work is for suckers, the RTA culture teaches that nothing lasting can be achieved without effort. 

Where the prison culture preaches every man for himself, RTA stresses that each member is needed for the group to be whole.

Where prison encourages isolation and violent retaliation to offense insures a long life, RTA shows that communication and cooperation are vital to the health of the community."


As an artistic community in which members participate for years - even decades - RTA offers a dynamic and richly varied program. Each facility in which RTA works has a unique curriculum that reflects the interest of the group, the ideas and energy of RTA teaching artists and the particular security concerns of prison administration.


At any one time, RTA juggles at least a dozen workshops, a workshop presentation and one or two full productions. Workshops range from a one-session master class in jazz guitar to a year+ long project of script and character analysis, dance and music that build to performance of a Broadway musical. Modern dance has been successfully taught in two male facilities and a hip hop class in another; one prison has a particularly strong emphasis on visual arts, another on original writing.

RTA is not a drop-in activity. RTA is not about becoming an actor. RTA is a commitment to a community of peers that uses the arts as a tool to support emotional, social and cognitive growth.