BPREVIEW: Behind Bars @ REP 24.11.16

Behind Bars @ REP 24.11.16Words by Lucy Mounfield

On Thursday 24th November, BOLDtext Playwrights present Behind Bars – an evening of short new plays about prison reform, performed at the Birmingham REP.  

Doors open at 8pm, with the audience invited to ‘Pay-What-You-Can’ as admission. For direct event info, click here.birm_prev-logo-main-lr

BOLDtext Playwrights are a group of working playwrights who aim to ‘create more opportunities and new platforms for our work in the Midlands and beyond’. Their work has previously been showcased in venues including the Birmingham REP and Warwick Words.

For Behind Bars, expect an evening of thought-provoking and deeply serious ideas. Three short plays about prison reform will take place in the REP’s smaller theatre, The Door, all written by Liz John, Nicola Jones and Tim Stimpson – writer of the Helen’s Trial in The Archers. With this Archers storyline even gaining national news attention, the criminal justice system is  arguably at the forefront of many people’s minds.

On their website, BOLDtext Playwrights offer up some pointed questions, such as ‘Does prison work? Or is it a revolving door?’ which gives an insight into the questioning nature of the evening. Following the short plays will be a debate about prison reform from a panel of representatives from both sides of the justice system.

Do BOLDtext Playwrights have an agenda? Or do they simply want to create an atmosphere of debate and insightful enquiry? Well, on the WordPress page for Behind Bars they have some pretty damning facts about the UK’s prison system, which feel very much like the roots of the idea for the event:

‘We lock up more offenders than any other Western European country, yet UK re-offending rates remain sky high – 60% in Birmingham for those serving sentences under 12 months. And with under-staffing, over-crowding, spiraling rates of assault, self-harm and suicide, substance misuse and mental illness – what can our prison system realistically achieve?’rep-logo-trans

Will Behind Bars offer us an alternative to this situation? At the very least it should make us think about our country’s prison system: what works, what doesn’t, how effective is it at reform, and does it make the country safer? And above all, are we are happy with it?

Behind Bars looks to be an evening that will hit us hard and fast with ideas. And with the political year we have had, it’s clear many people are looking for a platform to stand up and have their say.

Behind Bars runs at REP for one night only, on Thursday 24th November. Tickets are free but should be booked in advance at Birmingham Rep, then ‘Pay-What-You-Can’ on the night.  For direct event info, click here.

For more information on BOLDtext Playwrights, visit www.boldtextcollective.wordpress.com

For more from the Birmingham REP, including the full event programme and online tickets sales, visit www.birmingham-rep.co.uk

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