I saw this exciting yet deeply moving play (tour details below) at a pop up arts space in Forest Gate, East London. The perfect place for it. Bare room with some experimental art on the wall and rows of chairs facing the set, which had the same dimensions as a cell – only 12×8. Barred shows us a mostly secret and hidden world behind bang-up.
Any that make decisions about the fate of prisoners should experience just a day in a room as small as this. It is suffocating. This, for me, was a powerful, powerful choice by Dean Stalham (who also directed) to use of the lack of physical space prisoners endure and the constant need to lift water-filled weights contributed to the intensity of the insightful and authentic exploration of a pair of cell mates’ relationship and how they survive their stretch.
Barred is a play that explores the true complexities of life inside. Two men in a box forced to struggle with their demons and the system that holds them captive. Set in Strangeways in 1994 cell mates, Salford born Danny (Nigel Travis) and Liverpool born Ali (Thomas Jan Johnston) go head to head, fighting for survival. Danny believing that he can find salvation and redemption through art and education, Ali believing the only way to do a prison sentence is by doing it the hard way.
I cannot begin to describe the brilliance of this piece. Dean Stalham, himself a former prisoner, writes with brutal elegance but also there are nonsensical flourishes “crazy nights – fantastical days – end up doing time – in Strangeways…”
In Barred he has, with the skill and total commitment from his actors produced a work that leaves you stunned and yet enlightened. Nigel Travis shows a heart breaking sensitivity as Danny, especially concerning the loss of his relationship with his daughter. Thomas Jan Johnston’s hilarious turn as Ali can switch from all northern bonhomie and warmth to a cold, dead eyed snake loathing his cell mate, the system and himself. Whatever his mood, Ali rages against the world.
Having had some experience with the system myself I cannot recommend Barred highly enough. For its searing honesty, understanding of the human condition and the redemptive possibilities of artistic endeavours. Oh and by the way, it is VERY funny. Theatre doing its job for a change and doing it extremely well.
I would like to leave with a quote from Dean Stalham as I cannot say it better.
“But once art’s in your life the world’s a better place. With art you can communicate, and if you communicate you share and the whole world opens up to you. I know that it does work because I’m living proof of it.”
Review by Oscar Ciros
Barred is produced by the charity Stretch STRETCH CHARITY who promote change through cultural education and are always looking for creative ways to reach those marginalised by society.
Next showing at The Baltic Social 25-29 Parliament Street, L8 5RN Liverpool. email@example.com
The play has received Arts Council funding to tour England and deliver FREE events.
Our installation at St Katharine Cree was a HUGE success!
We share some images with you here.
We are currently preparing for our next event at Sutton House on 8 September.
The outside of the Museum had a well cared for garden, good for picnics. It was nicely kept as was the beautiful herb garden. As you walk into the herb garden many of the plants were clearly labelled and carried a short description.
As you walk into the building you are immediately greeted by friendly and helpful staff at the Reception.
The Exhibition is housed in a long corridor with different rooms of houses from different eras and different parts of the world. The information displayed was clear, simple and would be easy for children to understand.
Throughout these rooms there were displays for people of all ages to interact with. There is a guessing game for children where children can guess the country of origin which is revealed by removing the flap.
The café was visited and as soon as you walk in there are brownies and other cakes on display. The staff seemed friendly and welcoming although it did seem they were understaffed which made the service slow, but still a nice environment.
The facilities for the men were clean and tidy whereas the women’s facility were not so good.
The stock in the shop catered for all ages.
Leon W.G – 13 Years
Get your FREE tickets here for our St Katharine Cree LIVE EVENT
29 June FREE ticket
You will find research panels, artwork, food and some films all created with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The evening will start with a talk from Anne Askew expert Mike Stuchbery.
Following the talk there will be a break when you can visit the exhibition and sample some Tudor fare.
After the break we will be given a dramatised presentation using Lady Jane Grey’s own words by Sarah J Warren.
The Digital Output Team have produced two short films for our installations and they can also be downloaded.
Shot in Hackney following Heritage Filmmaking Workshops earlier this year.
First showings at St Katharine Cree WOEFUL PUPPET installation.
Lady Jane Grey Psalm 51
Mary I The Roman Catholic Nicene Creed
Excerpts will also be included along with interviews with experts, still and moving images and a community scripted voiceover in our Documentary.
An installation and Live Events funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Mounted at St Katharine Cree and created by our community team of researchers and artists to explore the religious and political turmoil in Tudor England that led to the execution of the Nine Day Queen – Lady Jane Grey.
St Katharine Cree C Of E Church
86 Leadenhall Street, London, EC3A 3BP
St Katharine Cree Map
LIVE EVENTS Free via Eventbrite
22 June @ 7pm Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, The Puppet Master
29 June @ 7pm Lady Jane Grey, The Woeful Puppet
Marlborough Theatre, Princes Street, Brighton June 2017
McLuckie’s outstanding talent shines brightly at the Brighton Fringe. This big Scot is a difficult man to pigeon hole. A sharp, biting wit with a surgical ear and eye to the vagaries of speech patterns from characters that stay in the Glasgow high flats to the Hollywood Hills. (Personal favourite was the malevolent assassin of Marilyn Monroe and Maria Callas).
At times absurd and very camp yet a split the room ditty about incest may not be every one’s cup of tea. As I said he is hard to pin down and describe. He is a poet, singer, political observer and an extraordinary performer. Wrapping his long, tall person round clearly observed and defined characters with so much energy you yearn for him to have a larger space so that us in the audience can sit further away to really appreciate the detailed depth of his writing and performance. I laughed so hard at his story about being gay in Paisley and going with a straight guy in the Littlewoods toilet that I gave myself whiplash.
Do fasten your seatbelts for the story about how Judy Garland was able to reach those notes with the added bonus of a delicious Bette Davis impersonation.
Both entertaining and searing work makes for a bumpy night but you are in the hands of an exceptional artist, so enjoy the ride.
Reviewed by Oscar Ciros
We are hosting Heritage Workshops in Hackney throughout May and June to complete our installation for St Katharine Cree.
We have been working on researching the Throckmorton family and their links with the events that led to Lady Jane Grey’s execution. The life of the martyr Anne Askew and the inner life of Lady Jane Grey as she was cruelly manipulated for political gain and greed.
If you wish to learn more about the project or receive a workshop application pack and be part of the installation at St Katharine Cree please contact us here or at firstname.lastname@example.org
There are still opportunities to join the research teams as we have an event at Sutton House on 8 September 2017 and our flagship event at The Tower of London 12 February 2018 and return research trips to Hampton Court and the Tower of London.
We have found several sources telling us that Lady Jane Grey recited Psalm 51 in her room at The Tower of London before she was executed. The whole team agreed it would be good to have a version on our website as well as include excerpts in the finished documentary.
Some of the Digital Output Team have kicked off the creation of the dramatized segments of the finished film piece (and also with an eye on how to use primary sources at the Woeful Puppet’s 3 exhibitions differently).
It was agreed that Sarah (pictured here) who is researching the part religious schisms and changes to the laws in England led to Lady Jane Grey’s execution should deliver this.
A great start to what we are sure will be a wonderful heritage output.
Read Psalm 51
Woeful Puppet – Research In Action
We have been conducting practical Heritage Skills workshops, getting Archive and Research training and going on field trips to museums and galleries. And READING and READING.
The long process of sifting and collating begins early and here is a video made by our Digital Output Team of one of the steps in our research trail into the life of Lady Jane Grey.
With the St Katharine Cree installation coming up in June and work started on Sutton House installation we covered the Throckmortons and Anne Askew a lot in this session at Diorama Studios during our latest set of workshops and installation creating.