Dr Rachel Bennett introduces a new commission exploring life in an English prison’s Mother and Baby Unit.
Geese have over 30 years of experience working and facilitating interactive theatre within the criminal justice system (CJS), using the arts within the rehabilitation process. They won the commission through our Open Call for artists working in the CJS to respond to our research with a project involving prisoners as active participants. Their approach, creating Theatre of Testimony based on participants’ lived experience, uses stimulating and innovative issue-based theatre to facilitate choice, responsibility and change in the participants.
Working with Geese offers us a unique opportunity to explore the long term historical narrative of women’s experiences in prison and its relevance to the challenges facing women in prison today. As part of the creative process, we will share with the participants a composite of original archival research, which offers information on the structure, intentions and regulations of the prison routine, and surviving prisoner memoirs, which offer an insight into the daily realities of prison life for women.
This melding of history with the pioneering approach taken by Geese, using theatre to encourage participants to actively explore situations that resonate with their own contemporary experiences, will allow us to hear voices from behind the prison walls from both past and present and highlight how the historical narrative can be used in a creative way to add another facet to the use of the arts within the current criminal justice system.
Read more about the outputs of our work with Geese, and the production of a piece of Theatre of Testimony based on our research and interviews with the women of HMP Peterborough.