Text by Robert 'Bobby' Cummines
It was good to speak to you yesterday and I thank you for the positive feedback you gave on our part in the discussion after your excellent play ‘VOICES’.
I felt the performance was outstanding. The whole play was a huge success in my view and the actors were so professional that the entire show became real for me. I go to see many various types of plays, but the performance of VOICES touched my very soul. Please convey my best wishes and compliments to all those involved in the production.
What you are doing in prisons is so very important. Drama frees the prisoner not only from the jail, but from the prison of his or her mind or circumstances; namely the prison of his/her mind and the darkness that incarcerates the very soul.
It also allows the inmate to explore their full potential and give them the confidence and self-esteem that most truly lack. It educates them in literacy which, unfortunately, the large percentage lack. It helps them develop communication skills and inter-personal skills that prison actively takes away from them.
I cannot express strongly enough just how indispensable the work you are doing in prisons is. I can speak from experience. I served thirteen out of a twenty year sentence.
You will probably wonder why the dramatist relates so well to the prisoner. It is because we all know about tragedy, heartache, love and the loss of it, and the silence of the nightmares we all have to live with.
I was once on a TV programme and told the presenter that my realities began where most people’s nightmares ended. That was true. However, the positive element hidden in the art of drama in prisons is that it frees the inmates to share those nightmares for themselves within the safety of a play and, correspondingly, to not feel the loneliness. This may very well save the inmate from suicide. Ask anyone in a prison if they would sooner see an inmate doing drama or hanging from his own bed sheet and all but the sick in mind would choose the drama.
You have my full support and that of my charity in what you are doing and if we can assist you in any way, we will be happy to do so.
Can you please thank all of the members of your team for an excellent performance and for the enormous pleasure of their company after the show during our discussion.
My sincere best wishes to you and all. Keep up the good work.
Bobby Cummines, OBE, FRSA