Looking Back in Wonder
Text by Robyn Moore
Having been involved with the LSW Prison Project since it was engendered during a brainstorming session at the LSW Local in Marylebone back in 1997, and having taken part in the first LSW Prison Project session in November of 1998, it’s hard to know where to start with this, my first diary entry.
From the outset I felt sure it would succeed because of the very nature of the London Shakespeare Workout itself, and to understand that you have to appreciate the extraordinary talents of Bruce Wall and his ability to unleash the talents of others through his generosity of spirit and his genuine and tireless enthusiasm. I felt sure that his ability to knock down barriers and empower LSW participants would communicate to all who were privileged to work with him and not just a bunch of actors and arty types.
However, I couldn’t possibly have realised how successful the project would become and how fast! But I’m so glad my instincts were right. Since the first session it’s been clear that the inmates have recognised Bruce as the genuine article. Bruce’s belief in the liberating power of words and the rights of all to our great heritage, the works of William Shakespeare, dissolves barriers almost instanteously. The LSW Prison Project’s huge advantage is in being totally unpatronising. Inmates and actors work out together; interacting, mutually supporting, listening, looking, experimenting, laughing and crying. A sense of trust comes as the barriers go and with that freedom comes creative expression.
It is a joy to participate in one of these workouts. The feeling of liberation, exhilaration, empowerment and self-worth is mutual for all involved. These two and a half hour sessions can be the key to unlock a young offender’s imagination and often become the turning point in the life of an unrealised and unfulfilled potential.
It can only feel good to be involved in that process. As the Prison Project expands, my pride in it grows. It has become the most worthwhile and exhilarating experience of my career.
Long live the LSW Prison Project!