Slicing Through Nodules of Fear
by Anna Martin
HMP Bullingdon, 5th February 2002
It would be fair to say that I'm still reeling from my day at H.M.P Bullingdon on Tuesday 6th, it was just so refreshing. I didn't really know what to expect from LSW, naturally I'd heard glowing reports from friends and had always been eager to get involved but it was difficult to know what to expect.
The day started on the train going over the plan for the day and in particular the script for the forthcoming production of "Voices". This in itself was quite amazing. I soon learnt from a quick read of the beginning and end sections of the piece that the work produced from the Workouts was incredibly impressive. To be honest I felt really in awe of it. I also felt a little bit nervous about the day, however, this soon abated when I sat down and had a good chat with one of the inmates at Bullingdon, a bright guy called Andrew. Once at ease he was really open and passionate not just about LSW but also about the radio station he was involved in at the prison. These qualities were exhibited in many of the characters at Bullingdon that day. On initial introduction there was a reticence: Two hours later you couldn't shut them up or write ideas down on a piece of paper quick enough!
Bruce started with various games which familiarised and relaxed everyone. The energy in the room from this point onwards felt really alive and positive, even when we moved onto working with the text in "Voices". Many of the guys and especially one really animated guy Pedro were eager to contribute. They were also very receptive to learning about rhythm and using it in their own writing at the end of the day. I think it was during this point that I was really blown away by the work. We were in groups of six or so, putting together a role play using verse, this sounds difficult and I think it is certainly true that iambic pentameter, a rhythm that is in total harmony with our natural speech patterns, has always been perceived to be a mystery. Yet these guys were writing and performing their own lines of verse after a couple of hours in the environment of the Workout.
What was especially wonderful about Tuesday was not just that I felt exhilarated about the Workout but also that most people around me seemed to be, even those who had taken part many times previously. I mentioned that it was a refreshing experience at the start of this ramble! What I meant was that I was privileged to take part in a non-judgmental Workout. It was brilliant to see the guys supporting and encouraging one another and to find the lovely Prison Officer Hedge getting involved too! Bruce's energy for this project is infectious. It was really a very special day.
Anna Martin is a very talented recent LAMDA graduate, who recently made
her West End debut opposite Penelope Wilton in The Little Foxes at
The Donmar Warehouse.