My first day in prison I felt very afraid, trapped and alone. Then on a piece of paper, inviting me to take part in an London Shakespeare Workout, I placed my name. It would be an understatement to say that from there ‘things changed’. My first day in the Workout I felt nervous and a little weary as there were a group of professional actors immensely enjoying themselves with a bunch of prisoners. Now that’s scary!
Seriously, however, for the first time in a long time I felt worthy. I felt like more than just a number. More than NH4183. Although I was still incarcerated, for the first time I FELT FREE.
I continue to attend your classes and, as a result, as a person I have changed. I have become much more confident, much more aware and engaged as a team member in something special. Long gone are the days of sitting in my cell calculating the days until that day when I’m due to be released. Now I sit calculating the hours, minutes and seconds until we have our next drama lesson!
Wow! I’m in prison. I’m in a prison and having the time of my life!
Is this too good to be true? For a time I thought it was.
I began to resent Shakespeare. I began to question my ability to perform. I started to doubt my commitment and passion towards the art. In my life, you see, I have always been fed hope. Still, everything I have been involved with has always come to a crashing end.
So what makes this any different?
I posed this question to LSW’s Founder, our teacher, Dr. Bruce Wall. He reassured me of the value of the opportunity that LSW offered, noting that the professional skills offered equipped students with the hope that one day they might be able to turn – for themselves – their own dreams into a reality, whatever those dreams might be. Crucially, he remarked on the positive effect such a course could have on my children.
For a moment LSW I thought that by joining you I had made a big mistake. I realise now that the only thing it has done is make a BIG DIFFERENCE in my life for the better. For that I thank you.