Text by Dan Hayes
Thank you for sending us a copy of the LSW Prison Project Diary. It was a memorable day for us when you visited Aylesbury with your actors to put on a Shakespeare workshop. Since your visit we have had renewed interest from inmates in drama projects. Word has got around that these sessions are fun to be in when people from the outside (actors) come to lead the classes.
Having actors come and inject energy and enthusiasm for their craft inspires the young men to engage in a way they may not ordinarily do at Aylesbury. The actors led by example and were obviously confident in their own ability. This in turn helped to develop a safe and purposeful environment for the workshop.
It was also an opportunity for the young men to work together. Often within a class they work alone or on their own projects whereas in this workshop they were encouraged to work creatively with one another. Communication skills are enhanced as the value of working creatively together is realised.
At the end of the session it was evident how much they had enjoyed themselves. I am sure they would have carried on all day if it had been possible. Since you came I asked some of the young men to write down their thoughts about the workshop:
‘I really enjoy these type of lessons’.
‘I feel as though it helps me to gain my confidence and expand my knowledge’.
‘I feel as though there should be a lot more of these courses at HMYOI Aylesbury on a regular basis’.
‘It’s good for confidence about being around people in fun and I think we should have more lessons’.
‘I’m learning a lot like how to act about Rome and about other play writers’.
‘Big thumbs up from me’.
The quotes speak for themselves. Drama does tend to attract students who are reasonably well motivated and have better than average self-esteem. Whilst I am in no doubt they benefit from the sessions it would be good in the future (if you are able to come again) to work with students that had low self-esteem and lacked confidence and motivation.
I have spent some time discussing the merits of this work with Liz Vallis, the Education Manager at Aylesbury who, as you know, fully supports your work. Liz and I hope that you are able to do more work here having given us a glimpse of the potential for future projects. We can only benefit from this sort of work and we would like to thank you for making this happen. Also we would like to thank the actors who came for their professionalism, vitality and commitment to this work.
Aylesbury Young Offenders Institute
[Now Service Director,
Care UK Health in Justice]