LSW Prison Shakespeare Workout Diary

An Interest to Learn

Text by Angus

Artwork by Tom Cregeen

Dear LSW:

I felt I had to write to you!

         (Is that 5 heartbeats?)


Thanks very much for coming into our lovely home.  I really enjoyed the ‘class’.


The reason I am writing is twofold.  Firstly to compliment and secondly to make a request.


Myself and about ten other ‘residents’ took part in the scriptwriting classes run by Esther, Jason and Anders Lustgarten of the HMP Wandsworth Education Facility.  We also had a special course run by Simon Stephens of the Royal Court Theatre.

London Shakespeare Workout LSW Prison Project

That course was inspirational and as a result I still keep in touch with Simon, having managed to write a couple of things due to his expertise, encouragement, energy but more than anything, genuine care for his


While I appreciate that I am no newfound talent, it has given me a new medium to express emotions and experiences previously locked away in my mind during periods confined to a single cell within this place (usually 95% of the time, despite classes).


At the end of our course a few weeks ago we were asked our opinions and any suggestions we had.  My opinion was that while I loved some of the plays, especially Simon’s Herons and a couple by Rebecca Gilman, they were all of the modern ‘shock-art’ variety of theatre.  Most of them had some sick / shocking / gross or sexual explicit subtext to ‘shock’ the audience.

London Shakespeare Workout LSW Prison Project

My suggestion was that we did some Shakespeare to have a comparison in styles, but mainly as I love Shakespeare.


Having seen the clever way you managed to convey this message about Shakespeare, managing to overcome the normal blinkered view I have encountered when merely suggesting doing one of his plays, I hope you can manage to sort some future project.


If this is a possibility then the best person to contact is Anders as he is the most progressive of our teachers and I have massive respect for him.


As a stopgap, I am arranging to have some ‘Frasier’ scripts sent in for Anders’ classes.  Not Shakespeare, but a step in the right direction.


London Shakespeare Workout LSW Prison Project

If it turns out nothing transpires before January then I’m off to university, so thanks anyway.


Any suggestions for shows, especially for Shakespeare-related would be appreciated as I will be a ‘Lundanah’ from now on.  I will be going to see shows at the Royal Court and the usual places in the West End, plus an annual Haj to the Mecca of Edinburgh.  I will definitely be taking in a lot more traditional theatre down here.

London Shakespeare Workout LSW Prison Project

I apologise for the length of this letter but very few people in here, from the authorities to inmates, understand that ‘rehabilitation’ will never come from incarceration or, for that matter, the domestic jobs allocation.  It will only ever come through education and to educate you must ‘inspire’ an interest to learn.  Classes like yours and Simon’s do that.


In one session you managed to get some pretty serious criminals to throw away inhibitions that I had failed to in classes where I had written ‘scenes’ they refused to ‘act out’ as they depicted things they thought threatened their ‘street-cred’ or their masculinity.

London Shakespeare Workout LSW Prison Project

In seeing this I can only give you the highest praise as I, for one, know for most people less fortunate educationally than me, this is their only chance to escape the system they are trapped in.


Yours very sincerely,



London Shakespeare Workout LSW Prison Project