31st December 2002

                CHAIRMAN’S ANNUAL REPORT - 2002

There shall have been sixty one (62) London Shakespeare Workout (LSW) Prison Project sessions in LSW’s second year as a registered charity (calendar 2002) within 37 of Her Majesty’s correctional centres, ranging from juvenile estates, through to young offender institutions and adult prisons; all geographically centred between Sussex and Staffordshire.  In these, 1,843 inmates both male and female shall have actively participated alongside 187 Prison Officers and educational staff and, amazingly, 693 professional performers ranging from Fiona Shaw to Sir Jonathan Miller, each and all energetically contributing. 


LSW’s second year has also witnessed:


  •      The development of the Ex-Offender/Professional Workouts in which 96 ex-offenders have participated since the April ’02 launch and from which an additional 473 professional performers have gained insight since January both in London and Manchester, where we where we have been most proud to launch an initial base in tandem with Theatre in Prisons and Probation and the Contact Theatre. 

  •      The successful premiere of LSW’s VOICES programme, giving voice to inmates currently incarcerated as inspired through LSW core incentives.  The first presentation featuring the creative written input of eleven inmates, Voices, a tale about a sixteen year old boy and his perspective of the world around him (from which the incentive has now taken its name) was proudly performed in tandem with an original score by Tom Wiggall at The Oxford Playhouse, The ADC in Cambridge and within The Clore Studio in London’s Royal Opera House.  In the latter case, the presentation had a cast of 29, a third of whom were ex-offenders.  Each was followed by an animated debate on the importance of Arts in Criminal Justice Regimes.   The 2003 programme, A Homage Behind (a celebration of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee as perceived by those currently serving at Her Pleasure) has been conceived to by 29 serving inmates from as many different institutions.  This was proudly previewed at The Criterion Theatre in London’s West End on 19th November 2002 and shall, after revision, officially open on 9th March 2003 at The Oxford Playhouse.

  •      LSW was honoured in 2002 to be chosen for inclusion in the BBC2 flagship presentation of its ‘Shakespeare’ segment of the Great Britons Series.  This was most refreshing as the segment’s primary focus was one based well beyond the Prison Service itself.  Here the fine words of the men from HMP Lowdham Grange as inspired by the Bard were allowed to speak for themselves.  Moreover, many feature articles, (such as the two page article from The Guardian enclosed) were written on LSW’s work further enhancing the public’s awareness of its importance as an educational tool both inside and out.  LSW’s last project in regard to public awareness in 2002 is a video feature being made in tandem with London Weekend Television which shall be distributed to all Foreign Office locations by the end of the year, one to be broadcast by networks world-wide. 

  •       One of the most outstanding aspects of LSW’s work in 2002 has been the joint ventures we have enjoyed with the professional theatrical and educational communities, namely, The Birmingham Repertory Theatre, The Nottingham Playhouse, Chichester Festival Theatre, Oxford and Cambridge Universities, the Royal Shakespeare Company, The Old Vic, Shakespeare’s Globe and Thelma Holt Productions.  All of these I am delighted to report shall be on-going in 2003 and the development of new incentives are currently underway. 

  •       “We know full well that if we are to cut off the roots of crime, we have to give people something positive, not simply take away their liberty,” Tessa Jowl, Minister of Culture, Media and Sport has noted, “LSW’s projects have successfully raised individual horizons and improved participants’
    sense of self-esteem.”  The year 2002 marked one in which the LSW Prison Project largely came out of the shadows.  “LSW is It is not all about clamping people down;” Lord Rooker noted in a House of Lords debate, “it is about opening people up and encouraging them to be positive, whether they have offended or not. This is an important issue to have been raised in the House.”

  •       This year shall have also marked the launch of LSW’s new media arts project ‘Dreaming Will’, which, as promised in my inaugural Chairman’s report of last year, shall have drawn its name from the wonderful documentary film directed by Lucy Fyson for Films of Record on LSW’s work in 2001.  On 10th November 2002 at Cambridge University, 12 ex-offenders met with eight Cambridge University students and five key professional film makers.  By the end of the day in interactive groups of four, each individual had served as interviewer, interviewee, camera operator, sound operator and director and each collective group had additionally made a five minute film from storyboard to in-camera editing.  It was an outstanding success.  Here, quite obviously, inclusion was working because it was invisible and the key skills of literacy and innumeracy where magically employed by all in a fundamentally practical manner.


Above all, LSW has collectively strengthened its purpose by, simply, utilising the works of Shakespeare and other major dramatic writers/voices as an interactive tool by which to promote confidence through the Will to dream for all.  In this way LSW has begun to achieve success in its quest to address all of what we refer to as the 'applied' literacies, e.g., written, verbal, visual, musical and numeric.  Notwithstanding, this Year End Report must deal in futures as that is, in effect, LSW’s stock-in-trade.  Whilst prison residents may pay for past errors inside, LSW must dynamically deal with their universal potential without by means of an active engagement.  The future is, as it should be, bright, both profiting from and building (as it must) on past lessons and achievements. Thus in 2003, LSW Prison Project incentives shall include:-

  •     A production of Henry VI, Pt. 3 (herein called ‘The Wax King’) at HMP Pentonville (public performances 10 & 11.2.03) thanks to London Arts Regional Lottery programme;

  •      The recording of Shakespeare sonnets and original inmate writing with named professionals and inmates at HMP Bullingdon thanks to the Southern Arts Regional Lottery programme to be distributed free of charge to all prison educational centres in the United Kingdom and Ireland;

  •      A week’s sojourn in October in Canada working with the Canadian Stratford and Shaw Festivals in Toronto Jail and Niagara and Stratford Detention Centres;

  •       An active association with Chris Grace and the Animated Shakespeare Tales for prison performances utilising inmates and professionals;

  •       Encouraging our on-going associations with Oxford and Cambridge Universities in terms of the ‘VOICES’ programme celebrating new writing inside on the out and further strengthening our bond with The Koestler Arts Trust

  •       The realisation of two episodes in the inaugural ‘Dreaming Will’ dv series to be distributed free of charge to all prison educational centres in the United Kingdom and Ireland in tandem with our principal partners, Prisons Video Magazine.  The themes initially addressed in these episodes shall be (a) On Violence/Bullying and (b) On Matters of State and Citizenship.


There can be no question; 2002 was a remarkable year for LSW.  We must now jointly strive to see that the future is even brighter.


Bless you all for your belief and support.  Without it, the dream which is LSW would never have been, nor ever could be possible.


R. Bruce S. Wall
Chairman, Executive Committee
LSW Prison Project