Disorder Contained: A Theatrical Examination of Madness, Prison and Solitary Confinement

London Dates Confirmed

Rich Mix, Shoreditch, London 9 & 10 October

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We are delighted to have a one-off showing of a recording of our play, Disorder Contained, accompanied by a panel discussion, on Wednesday 13 June 2018 at Tate Modern as part of Warwick’s Tate Exchange.

Disorder Contained

Disorder Contained: A theatrical examination of madness, prison and solitary confinement is a major public engagement activity for the Wellcome Trust funded project Prisoners, Medical Care and Entitlement to Health in England and Ireland 1850-2000. It draws on the work of Associate Professor Catherine Cox (UCD) and Professor Hilary Marland (Warwick) and forms the final part of The Asylum Trilogy exploring various aspects of the history of mental health.

The production, created with Talking Birds and to be performed in Coventry, Dublin, Belfast, and London during 2017, will be accompanied by Expert Panel Discussions as well as Post-show Artistic Conversations which will be recorded along with a performance.

Audience feedback, both from the general public and those working within the prison estate, will be really important to the activity. What did people think of the show? How did it change their perceptions? What might change as a result of attending the event?

We have posted several blogs, (one, two) about the process of translating academic research into accessible theatre, as well as various pieces of background reading.


Concerns about the detrimental impact of the prison system on the mental health of inmates are mounting, putting pressure on prison staff, prompting governmental enquiries, and featuring persistently in the agendas of prison reform organisations.

But this isn’t today – this is the 1850s, when the ‘The Separate System’ – the spiritually-inspired adaptation of solitary confinement intended to enable prisoners to repent their crimes – is being introduced to British and Irish prisons. Prison chaplains, doctors and governors conceived this as a way for prisoners to reflect upon their crimes and reform.

Evidence is becoming overwhelming that the Separate System is causing hallucinations, delusions, and insanity. However, rather than being abandoned, the elements of penitence and reform are being discarded and transformed into a regime of deliberate punishment, one that has endured until the present.

Using contemporaneous documents, including prisoners’ memoirs, doctors’ casebooks, and the reflections of prison staff, Disorder Contained combines music, song, wit and compassion to explore the rationale behind this enduring and harsh system.

Read our Press Release

London Performances

Disorder Contained at Rich Mix, Shoreditch, London

Monday 9 October, 7:45 pm

Tuesday 10 October, 2:30 pm & 7:45 pm

A post-show conversation with expert contributors will follow each performance

Book now!


Flyer for Coventry, Dublin and Belfast Performances