By Lucy McGirk
Young offenders in Polmont took part in a workshop to encourage creativity run by theatre group Visible Fictions. This on-going exercise involved the prisoners working together with a professional writer, director and set designer to put together a play based on the first chapter in Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’.
The company’s Artistic Producer, Dougie Irvine, compared this chapter, which involves sailors, unbeknown to them, trapped on a ship with the vampire, to many of the youngsters circumstances. He cited them as being “trapped” in destructive patterns.
He also said, with regards to the reception of the theatre group by the young people, that “I’m sure it was a laugh at first”, but that it was “truly remarkable to watch these boys grow and develop through art”. In an interview he also gave a number of stories of individual offenders, one of whom wanted to re-schedule an appointment with his lawyer regarding his appeal in order to appear in the show, and another who initially could not read or write, but took classes and was given greater motivation to learn so that he did not let down his fellow inmates. Irvine also stated that having a goal to work towards was “essential” for these boys, and that the sense of collective pride was “amazing”.
Alison Haylock, a former teacher at an English prison said about jail time that, “I believe that it should give convicted criminals a chance to re-make themselves and come out better equipped to deal with the world than when they went in”. This, in the eyes of Visible Fictions is the goal they’re striving for.
Visible Fictions are looking to expand this project, involving the cooking classes at the institution to cater for guests.