BOLDtext Playwrights are delighted to announce the panel for their audience discussion, ‘Sentencing for the Future’, which follows their latest show, The Sentence, three brand new short plays at Birmingham REP on Monday 28 January 8pm.
Paying the Price by Liz John
A disgraced surgeon awaits sentencing, when a young solicitor arrives with unexpected news.
Offences Against the Person by Vanessa Oakes
Why do sentences sometime bemuse and enrage the public?
Working Mother by Julia Wright
Karen will soon be leaving prison. Has she learned her lesson? Sophie tries to help her but is it working?
It’s been quite a year for BOLDtext Playwrights with our first ever site-specific show Behind Bars: Ghosts of the Lock-Up selling out this autumn. Thank you to everyone who came and gave their support.
Our fascination with crime and punishment continues with The Sentence, three new hard-hitting short plays from some of region’s foremost writers – Liz John, Vanessa Oakes and Julia Wright on Monday 28th January 2019 @ The REP.
BOLDtext Playwrights had a great day out recently, popping over to see our own Sayan Kent’s latest musical at Liverpool’s Royal Court Theatre, Maggie May, co-created with Bob Eaton. Set over WW1, it was clever, moving and funny – one minute businessmen sang hilariously about capitalism, and the next, women mourned lost babies with their shawls. Multi-talented 11-strong cast, and the audience loved it. So did we!
BOLDtext Playwrights’ most recent show, Behind Bars – Ghosts of the Lock Up, went down a storm in Birmingham city centre last month – with sell-out audiences who loved the humorous and heart-wrenching tales we told, as well as the more everyday stories embedded in the WM Police former Lock Up building. It felt like our contrasting voices each captured something different from the space, with wonderful performances to bring them to life. “Emotionally transporting”, ” Very atmospheric – shivers down my spine several times”, and “Really unique experience” were just some of the comments from our many visitors.
In the meantime, BOLDtext is working on another night of political shorts at Birmingham Rep on Monday 28 January 2019, so watch this space.
Our new show ‘Behind Bars: Ghosts of the Lock-Up’ runs from the 19th-21st October for nine performances only. Taking a theatrical journey through Birmingham’s Steelhouse Lane Lock-Up, it will raise spirits from the prison’s past. Julia Wright writes about one of them…
When we were given the possible choices for characters whose stories we could tell, I chose Maud Dillon, as she seemed at first to be a woman who was caught up in a life of prostitution. I was interested to find out why she might have been involved in that when she was a woman who had a job as a polisher – likely to be a metal polisher who worked in the jewellery industry. Was she desperate for money?
The only information about Maud Dillon is that she was 25 when she was arrested on 5/8/1921 for indecent behaviour. She was given a fine – £4 or 25 days in prison. I then discovered that ‘indecent behaviour’ could range from shouting and swearing in public to soliciting (prostitution). So maybe she was merely shouting and swearing in public? But why? When looking into the work that police women did at the time I found it seemed to contain a lot of what we would now call social work. Young women were picked up from around the station, seeking to meet soldiers and in 1919, 25% of them were under 17. What dreadful lives drove them to that?
In June 1918 a hostel was set up in Dale End to ensure women were in a place of safety from abuse while further enquiries were made to find them work or more permanent lodgings – one of the first hostels in the country. The workhouse was where some women who were abused ended up but was feared by all and women would be separated from their children (children still legally belonged to the father until 1925 so it was difficult for many women to leave abusive relationships). For some women the workhouse was better than the abuse at home
Miss Dorothy Peto became a lady enquiry officer with the CID in Birmingham in 1920. She visited homes, investigating indecent assaults and abuse and stated ‘the relief of victims was obvious when they saw a female police officer had come to take their statement.’
I have linked together the work of Dorothy Peto and a possible explanation for Maud Dillon’s arrest to highlight the often appalling abuse that women had to endure, sometimes at the hands of their partners. The disturbed mental conditions of returning soldiers were often not recognised and PTSD was not diagnosed or understood.
Our new show ‘Behind Bars: Ghosts of the Lock-Up’ runs from the 19th-21st October for nine performances only. Taking a theatrical journey through Birmingham’s Steelhouse Lane Lock-Up, it will raise spirits from the prison’s past. Helen Kelly writes about one of them…
Evelyn Miles was one of the first police women in England, taking up the uniform after her troubled husband was dispatched to Handsworth Asylum. An unwed mother at 18, the housekeeper to a doctor, the wife of a police sergeant suffering from mental illness – my reading of her character is that she was an empathetic person, drawn to Birmingham’s coal face of poverty and social deprivation, like Dorothy Peto after her (also featured in Ghosts of the Lock Up).
With no template or notion of social services, the justice system was society’s last net for lost souls, deeply flawed, maybe, but with a burgeoning complement of compassionate women coming through in the early Twentieth Century, to bring some sense of social responsibility towards those who had been abandoned by society, and lost their way.
I loved it that Evelyn was in her fifties when she embarked on her new life (hope for us all) and still holds the record for the oldest serving female officer in the West Midlands aged 77 when she retired.
You can meet Evelyn and many other fascinating characters in BEHIND BARS: Ghosts of the Lock-Up 19th – 21st October.