The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra has collaborated with staff, volunteers and inmates from Risdon Prison on a unique creative writing and performance project, Convict Monologues.
After ten months in collaborative development public readings of the work, performed by actors from the Tasmanian Theatre Company and an ensemble from the TSO, will take place in the evocative surrounds of the Hobart Convict Penitentiary on Sunday November 12, at 2pm and 4pm.
The inmates have researched and written a series of monologues inspired by the life and times of convicts from the age of early Australian colonisation, exploring how they overcame adversity and forged successful lives in Tasmania post transportationThe project seeks to benefit inmates in a number of ways, including developing written and oral communication skills, translating historical settings into a theatre script and developing inter-personal skills of creative collaboration, teamwork and problem solving.
TSO Managing Director Nicholas Heyward said, ‘This project with Risdon inmates exemplifies the broad scope of the outreach work that the TSO undertakes in the Tasmanian community. The public readings by the Tasmanian Theatre Company will be an opportunity to see this remarkable body of original work performed at professional level in the historically significant environment of the Hobart Convict Penitentiary.’
The TSO commissioned composer Chris Williams, a two time graduate of the elite Australian Composers' School, to compose incidental music for the performance, which will premiere prior to the public readings on Wednesday November 8 at Risdon Prison to an invited audience of family, friends, fellow inmates and officials. Six TSO musicians will perform at both events, and record the musical score for inclusion in future performances ofConvict Monologues.
The aim of Convict Monologues has been to engage, educate and inspire inmates through an ongoing series of classes coordinated between February and November 2017 by playwright, author and ABC Hobart content-maker Paul McIntyre and Risdon Prison Sport and Recreation Officer Natasha Woods. Over the duration of the program, inmates have had the opportunity to work through a process of professional script development as well as attending presentations by guest tutors including, from the University of Tasmania, Alison Alexander, Nicola Goc and Professor Stefan Petrow, among others.
A long-term aspiration of the project could seeConvict Monologues submitted to professional theatre companies for performance, the royalties used to further fund Arts Programs in Prisons and Victims of Crime organisations.