On Tour: Insight Theatre

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The Independent Culture
This is Insight Theatre's biggest tour to date. We've been going into prisons all round the country. Prison audiences are tough; they tend to blow out theatre companies that don't fulfil their needs or expectations. Although this has made it fairly stressful, the best thing has been the good reception we've had from the prisoners. The majority of the performers are ex-offenders, and the causes of crime have been explored in workshops over the years, so in a sense we have been testing our conclusions.

Generally there seem to be very few criticisms. The play shows the pressure on someone coming out of prison to re-establish the lifestyle they had before. The second scene is about a man who comes out of prison and goes home to have his girlfriend slam the door in his face. It's many prisoners' nightmare and that tends to hook them in quickly.

One of the highlights was Feltham Young Offenders Institute. The cast contains an ex- offender from Feltham who was inside only last year. The governor said he would only watch the first few minutes but in the end he was the last to leave and thanked each of the performers in turn. There is an understandable wariness about outside companies coming in because a misdirected performance can have quite a negative impact on the inmates. The actors, however, are quite keen to go back in because they find it a buzz to be able to walk out again later in the day.

Chris Johnston is director of 'The Anger Dyes (or 'Who Am I If I'm Not Who You Say I Am?') at New Grove Theatre, Drummonds, London NW1 to 2 Jul and the Round Festival, Winborne, Dorset 14-17 Jul (0202 889 669)

(Photograph omitted)

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