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Thursday, April 28, 2016
19-28 May 2016
A vacant shop at the Mill Gate Shopping Centre in Bury will be transformed into a replica prison cell between 19-28 May for a live and interactive theatre project that will offer the public the chance to see what life is like behind bars.
‘Go to Jail’ is one of many performances hosted in different venues by the The Met, Bury’s live music and theatre venue, during its £4.6million renovation.
The prison cell has been built to government regulations and includes two resident ‘prisoners’ who will interact with the public.
Shoppers can observe the prisoners through the barred window, or enter the cell to chat – asking them questions about their lives, their sentences, and how prison affects them. Although the two ‘prisoners’ are performers, both are former inmates and are happy to give the public an insight into the realities of prison life.
Visitors can also use a touch screen device to give opinions on their sentences and to decide what privileges they believe the prisoners should be entitled to in their cells; these could include such ‘comforts’ as a guitar, newspapers, or a television.
To offer different perspectives on prison life, two female prisoners will be the first to be ‘detained’ (19-23 May), followed by two male prisoners (24-28 May). During their time in captivity their home will be a replica cell measuring 3.7m by 2.5m containing a bunk bed, two chairs, a desk unit, sink, toilet and a mirror. In some UK jails, prisoners can spend up to 23 hours a day confined in a similar space.
The project is the brainchild of Rideout (Creative Arts for Rehabilitation), an arts collective that was established in 1999 in order to develop innovative, arts-based approaches to working with prisoners and staff within U.K. prisons. ‘Go To Jail’ is presented in partnership with The Met as part of its programme of events talking place across Bury during spring and summer 2016 during its £4.6million refurbishment. It will be re-opening as a venue in Autumn 2016.
Rideout’s Saul Hewish, who co-developed the project comments: “Unless you’ve actually ‘served time at Her Majesty’s pleasure’ it’s hard to imagine what life is really like for those incarcerated in our over-crowded prisons. Go To Jail allows people to see the reality, and hear real stories from those who’ve served sentences.”
Go To Jail is open from Thursday 19 to Saturday 28 May 2016 between 11am and 4pm at 10/12 Minden Parade, Mill Gate Shopping Centre, Bury, Lancashire BL9 0QG. Admission is free.
For more information and to arrange filming and interviews with the organisers and actors in advance, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org 0161 832 3588
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
Rideout is a Stoke-on-Trent based arts organisation that specialises in projects within the criminal justice system. This includes arts programmes in prisons as well as projects that engage members of the public in debate about the form and function of imprisonment.
In the week ending 18 March 2016 there were a total of 85,930 people in prison. Of these over 12,000 are being held two to a cell designed for one (Source: Howard League for Penal Reform).
The average annual cost of holding someone in prison is calculated to be close to £36,000 (Source: Ministry of Justice Information 2014)
The most recently available re-offending rates for those coming out of prison show 45% of adults are reconvicted within one year of release. For those serving sentences of less than 12 months this increases to 58%. Over two-thirds (68%) of under 18 year olds are reconvicted within a year of release. (Source: Ministry of Justice (2015) Proven reoffending statistics: July 2012 to June 2013)