Over the course of ten months inmates will research, write and perform 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 transportation.
The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra has commissioned composer Chris Williams, a two time graduate of the elite Australian Composers' School, to compose incidental music for the performance, which will take place Wednesday 8 November at Risdon Prison to an invited audience of family, friends, fellow inmates and officials. Six TSO musicians will perform live and record the musical score for inclusion in future performances ofConvict Monologues.
The aim of Convict Monologues is 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 will have 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.
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. I’m delighted that Chris Williams is taking such a key role; as a two time graduate of the Australian Composer’s School his involvement demonstrates the value of the investment we make in national elite musicians’ training.’
The 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.
A long-term aspiration of the project could see Convict Monologues submitted to professional theatre companies for performance, the royalties used to further fund Arts Programs in Prisons and Victims of Crime organisations.