CITIZENS THEATRE DELIVERS INNOVATIVE ARTS PROJECT IN HMP BARLINNIE
Over fifty prisoners at HMP Barlinnie are currently participating in an innovative arts project, Platform 2:10, as part of the Inspiring Change project. Funded by the Scottish Arts Council’s ‘Inspiring Communities Fund’, the Citizens Theatre and six other partnership arts organisations, led by Motherwell College, have been taking music, drama and the visual arts into Scottish prisons over the last year, promoting positive change in the lives of the inmates.
This project will offer prisoners the opportunity to produce or perform in an original performance piece, written entirely by a group inmates working with a professional playwright, drawing from real life experiences that matter to them. The project will also involve participants in production and technical roles, providing opportunities to learn new skills. The final show will see the chapel completely transformed into a railway station for one week in November, with performances to fellow prisoners, family and friends and invited guests.
Those taking part will work with two experienced theatre directors, Elly Goodman and Neil Packham, from the Citizens Theatre alongside a team of mentors – including a playwright, musical director, costume designer and a production team.
Scotland’s prison population is rising and many offenders are reconvicted within two years. Many prisoners have had a negative experience of formal education and it is believed that projects such as these, with a different approach to education, can provide new routes into learning. In addition, the project demands a level of personal reflection that encourages prisoners to consider the impact of their crime on victims and others.
Director, Elly Goodman, said:
“I’m very excited by the level of creativity that can be achieved in challenging and difficult environments, such as prisons. For some, life in prison is a complex and isolating experience therefore an outlet to express themselves is essential. Drama binds groups of people together and creates a unity, a shared experience and a positive pathway through the creative process.”
Platform 2:10 is the second project which is being delivered by the Citizens Theatre and one of eleven projects being delivered in five prisons under the banner of Inspiring Change. Earlier this year the Citizens delivered the project ‘A Woman’s Place’ in HMP Greenock prison with fifteen female prisoners.
The Inspiring Change project is being co-ordinated by Motherwell College, who are currently contracted to provide learning and skills services to nine Scottish prisons.
Kirsten Sams, Manager of Offender Learning, Skills and Employability Services, Motherwell College, believes that projects such as these are crucial to prisoner rehabilitation:
“Traditional approaches to education are not always effective in engaging prisoners. Important as literacy and numeracy are to employment and reintegration, many prisoners will not volunteer for such classes, even if they need them. We anticipate that the evaluation of this project will show that engagement in arts activities equips prisoners with the confidence to participate more effectively in education and preparation for employment. The link being created here between the arts and learning is in the spirit of Curriculum for Excellence and we very much hope it can be sustained beyond the lifetime of the Inspiring Change project.”
The Inspiring Change project is the first of its scale in Scotland and is the subject of landmark new academic research. Through this collaboration the partnership organisations allow the widest range of arts to be assessed for their impact in areas such as re-offending, literacy and numeracy, across a range of ages and genders.
The Citizens Theatre is firmly rooted in its local community and places a special emphasis on work with children, young people and socially excluded adults. We believe in placing arts, culture and creativity at the heart of learning. The theatre’s association with offenders is longstanding, particularly with HMP Barlinnie, originating in the 1970s when then Artistic Director Giles Havergal and Company actors worked with inmates of the Special Unit once a week, over a period of several years.
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NOTES TO EDITORS
1. The Inspiring Change project is a unique and pioneering partnership between several of Scotland’s outstanding centres of artistic excellence - National Galleries of Scotland, Scottish Opera, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Ensemble, National Youth Choir of Scotland, Citizens Theatre and Traverse Theatre. The project is led by Motherwell College.
2. Inspiring Change is funded through the Scottish Arts Council’s Inspiring Communities Fund and received funds from the £2.5 million National Lottery Funding to encourage participation in arts activities throughout communities.
HMP BARLINNIE: PLATFORM 2:10
27 September – 19 November 2010
Directed by Elly Goodman & Neil Packham
Script Development by Martin Travers & Kate Hendry
Designed by Neil Haynes
Musical Direction by Alan Penman & Brian McAlpine
Lighting Design by Sergey Jakovsky