Morgan Mackintosh

Morgan Mackintosh worked on the project. It was her first time in prison.

Day one of rehearsal many guys were uncertain, uncomfortable, and untrusting of everything about it – the non-prisoners and the other prisoners.

They learned their lines. They learned their cues and where to stand. They picked up on the mechanics quickly. You saw them finding an enjoyment out of hard and demanding work, they were also finding a confidence in their abilities, a confidence in who they are, a belief in themselves that was more valuable than anything they had done on the outside: things that had lead them to prison.
The most poignant perhaps, was how they were shown, and how they learned, their value, that they didn’t have to be defined by the worst thing they had done.
They were prisoners, but they were people too.

They drew from their experiences to give performances that were layered with intelligent understanding of their characters’ stories, their performances were raw and honest.
They understood the importance of their role, no matter how small, to the whole production’s tapestry; many acknowledged how this understanding could be used on the outside, in how they integrate back in society.

They allowed themselves to be vulnerable. To witness this caught you in the back of your throat. One thing that was very apparent was that they built trust; they no longer cared about their peers’ opinions, they trusted the audience members, and trusted those working with them. They had built a strong belief in themselves, and a stronger trust in others. On the one hand they weren’t so sensitive to opinion, and conversely they found sensitivity towards others’ emotions and capabilities. They cared about their performance and supported each other. This support system didn’t stop when they left the rehearsal room, but continued into the hardened cellblocks, where they have to put up fronts, always on guard.

``I felt like a person” “I felt human”
“There was no judgement” “We were people”

The prison experience for a lot of inmates involves wearing different masks. “There are masks when we are fathers, and sons…. and there are masks to deal with wardens or other inmates”. You could see how they enjoyed wearing their characters’ masks, and when those masks were off, they didn’t feel the need to put another on, as they were fine with being themselves. There was suddenly a safety in that, and liberation in that.
The transformation of each individual was moving.
As an audience member the experience is profound. Each individual is performing his heart out – giving his character so much that it exhausts. It is moving, in this case particularly as the irony of the show’s subject isn’t lost on any audience member. The audience were moved to tears, moved to their feet, and the train back to london was full of different conversations about the production, the guys performing, and the state of imprisonment itself.
The project showed at first hand what can be achieved within prison. It lasts well after the show – for all involved. The prisoners said they would they could hold on to, and stay focused on, throughout their sentence and hopefully beyond.

What a fantastic result.
Theatre like this, humanises what is dehumanising
Whether it is as audience, crew, wardens or inmates – it is undeniably transcending.
To participate in theatre does not mean you are suddenly going to become an actor. It is far more than that. It is the realisation that you can be part of something positive.
Through participating in the show they realised that up until this moment, they were missing something ; whether it was confidence, community, worth, happiness, or a sense of pride.
They were given something they didn’t have before.