This article was first published in the April 2014 Scene issue “Resources and research”.
My thoughts on this article in 2018:
I have to admit it is with some sadness that I now re-visit this article I first wrote for Scene in 2014. At the time of writing, my regular class in HMP Perth was thriving. I had a strong core group and we were making one new piece of original performance each year. That same year we won a Platinum Award for our show Now You See It from the Koestler Trust with judges commenting it was among the best work they’d seen from prisoners in this field. Then in 2016 the funding ran out and the project had to come to an end. To this day I am trying to get things running again and reinstate a much loved class to a community that saw and felt its value in real ways.
All of the reasons I think this work is important remain true and I continue to observe the power and potential of devised theatre as a tool for learning and change in a prison setting. I just hope that one day I will be in position to write another article about the next phase of the work in HMP Perth.
To devise: to plan or invent (a complex procedure, system or mechanism) by careful thought.
Oxford English Dictionary
Devising theatre is essentially the process of creating something new from scratch. Its power is in its infinite possibility and the opportunity it offers individuals to experiment with ideas of content, form, structure, staging and new styles in order to “make” a brand new piece of work.