A new play by Dean Stalham
‘Two men in a cell over bang-up debate love, life and survival’
“The play highlights the complexities of prison life with conviction – a very cleverly written script using humour and heartbreak to captivate the audience. An outstanding performance which shows how education can transform lives and aid rehabilitation. A must see!”
Amina Bodhania Education Manager HMP Manchester
Stretch New Media are pleased and proud to be producing the most authentic piece of prison theatre in the current market. Barred has been written by a former prisoner who discovered art, writing and education while serving a sentence in HMP Wandsworth Prison. He has since become a professional writer, writing for stage and screen, with programmes on channel 4 and play readings at the Royal Court – but always been driven to take the core message of ‘redemption through education’ back to the criminal justice community and to the world he came from. Barred gives the audience a chance to spend an hour in a prison cell and be privy to the otherwise unseen and unheard world behind bang-up. Two men in a cell struggle with their inner demons and relationship with education, drugs and the system that holds them captive.
Stretch New Media promote change through cultural education and are always looking for creative ways to reach those marginalised by society. Stretch Charity is very interested in using empathy and resilience to build understanding in the criminal justice communities – we deliver bespoke storytelling projects, some digital, some drama based, all with the intention of giving a platform to unheard stories and voices – the production of Barred is storytelling at its finest and a powerful medium to tell a previously unheard and untold story. Set in the notorious Strangeways prison with an authentic prison cell-set, the play reveals some of the pressures and difficulties of surviving a prison sentence.
Feedback from the first few performances has been really positive; the play has received a standing ovation from 80 Cat A prisoners, who chose to see the play. Prisoners, prison staff and the general public have all been moved, angered and educated – the play has promoted debate about the role of education and rehabilitation. With prisons in the news almost everyday at the moment, this is a powerful and authentic behind-thescenes look at the prisoners’ lot.
‘I really enjoyed the play today. I thought the subject was very realistic and deep – you can certainly relate to it. If it was on TV, I’d compare it to a Jimmy McGovern drama’
‘Overall an excellent play, I’ve never seen a play before, I always thought they were for posh people. I enjoyed it and thank you for coming to Strangeways.’
‘The actors done a really brilliant job acting. They made it as real as possible. The way drugs affected the prisoners body and then their best friend who was going to become a father who died on an overdose. The beautiful woman who played the prisoners daughter showed her feeling towards her father were all real. The delivery was clear and the use of dialogue was as if it was a real life jail scene, every officer should see this play’
‘It was very good and fantastic. Best experience I’ve seen in prison. It was funny.’
‘Thought it was an awesome presentation to bring real change in prisoners’ life.‘
‘It was amazing to watch from an officers’ point of view, even some of the lads had tears in their eyes. Thanks for coming and sharing such a superbly written and brilliantly acted play’
‘We are very happy – it was rewarding for us to see that our learners were so engaged in watching the play. It was a privilege to have your company perform your play at HMP Manchester to highlight the power of education’
‘The play highlights the complexities of prison life with conviction – a very cleverly written script using humour and heartbreak to captivate the audience. An outstanding performance which shows how education can transform lives and aid rehabilitation. A must see!’
‘You and your actors explained the terrible, brutal, tragic and gruesome unintended consequences of incarceration, without rehabilitation. I laughed and then choked on my laughter; was rendered numb and speechless and wept at a vision of resilience. Top work!’
‘Barred was an eye opening piece about life and hope on the inside. For anyone who appreciates life and good story telling this play is for them. I thought the performances were truthful and well researched.Some times hard to watch but the truth is never easy.’
‘I went on Thursday and must say its more than worth going to see,I actually think anyone pretending they don’t care if they end up in prison should be made to watch, maybe tour it around schools. Very well written directed & acted. A must see in my book’
‘An insight into the raw and tragic realities of prison life. Strong characterisations, charmingly enacted and all held together by the script by Dean Stalham, written from his own experiences in prison’
“The play gave insight into life within prison and the struggles prisoners face on a daily basis. I particularly liked how Dean included the inability to read part within his play including ideas around dyslexia due to this being such a real and current issue within education as a whole. I learnt from the play how difficult it may be to talk to others about your problems however this was expressed perfectly throughout, keeping me engaged thoroughly for the whole play. Would definitely recommend to anyone with interest around prison life and prisoners issues.”
Barred is currently in development for a tour of prisons and universities after a lot of interest – we are looking for some supplementary funding to offer the tour at a reduced rate to prison and university audiences. Stretch is looking at combining delivery with an education package and is in discussion with the Prisoner Education Trust about some support in sign posting to further education for prisoners.
Barred the play is also being turned into a screenplay and we have some interest from a Directing and Production team, see the go fundme site for some fund-raising around that.