Staging Time

Professor Hilary Marland and Rideout to continue their work in prisons fusing historical research and sources with drama

Following the success of Past Time at HMP Hewell Professor Hilary Marland and Rideout will continue to work together at the invitation of HMP Stafford on a year-long project starting in Autumn 2018 and running throughout 2019, Staging Time. We will be working specifically with men there who have neurodevelopmental conditions eg: learning disabilities / Autism / early onset dementia.

Alongside this, they will be creating a Toolkit to share the methodology and materials of Past Time with a wider audience. Past Time ran at HMP Stafford in November 2018 in a slightly abridged form as part of their Talent Unlocked Festival.

A History of Hard Labour

We will work with Dave McKenna (Being Frank Physical Theatre) to use dance to draw on the principles of Meyerhold’s Biomechanics, a codified way of acting where gestures and expressive movements are used as a way of expressing emotion and character physically. A short illustrated publication will present etudes created as part of the workshop process.

A History of the ‘Weak Minded’

We will work with a puppetry specialist to explore how neuro-atypical behaviours manifest in prison settings, and explore differences in how these have been viewed in the past and currently. Our aim is to film a final piece of performance and make this available online. 

The Ghost Songs of Conscientious Objectors

We will work with musicians to create music, songs, and lyrical readings responding to archival materials relating to conscientious objectors as well as examining contemporary resonances.  Songs and poems will be recorded for CD and online, and, if possible, the score will be professionally notated and made available for use by community choirs.

The project also includes evaluation by Stafford University’s Creative Communities Unit to assess whether the outcomes below for Past Time are repeatable and sustainable:

  • Mental disengagement decreased, suggesting mental health had improved
  • Reduced focus upon venting emotions through violent or aggressive methods
  • Decreased reliance on family and friends for financial support, due to gaining work placements on completion of the project
  • Development of new friendships which assisted in their ability to cope with prison life
  • Increase in acceptance of their situation and in beginning to come to terms with their environment
  • Dramatic decrease in substance use (alcohol, legal and illegal drugs) and increased focus on positive reinforced coping skills.

Staging Time is funded by HMP Stafford, ACE, Wellcome Trust, Warwick Ventures, and Warwick University’s Connecting Cultures Global Research Priority.

Image credit: Oakham Picking, Coldbath Fields, from Henry Mayhew & John Binny’s The Criminal Prisons of London. From Wikimedia Commons here