independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Captive audience: Abbey Theatre stages production in Wheatfield prison in a first for actors

Prisoners of Wheatfield treated to production of 'The Risen People'

13/01/2014. Pictured the Abbey Theatre perform 'The Risen People' for inmates at Wheatfield prison in Clondalkin in collaboration with the prison's Education Unit's Arts Programme where Drama plays a prominent role. Photo: El Keegan
Pictured the Abbey Theatre perform 'The Risen People' for inmates at Wheatfield prison in Clondalkin in collaboration with the prison's Education Unit's Arts Programme where Drama plays a prominent role. Photo: El Keegan

The Abbey Theatre has staged a professional theatre production in a prison for the first time in its history.

The prisoners of Wheatfield were last night treated to the production of 'The Risen People', a drama of the 1913 Lockout by James Plunkett.

The Abbey closed its own doors for the event, moving cast and crew to the prison for the occasion.

Director of the Abbey, Fiach Mac Conghail, said the company were "exhilarated" to be performing in the prison and that the event was a "personal highlight" of his tenure as director of the Abbey, which is due to finish at the end of 2016.

He said Wheatfield Prison had been chosen as it was noted for its education programme and had a record of "using the arts to prepare and empower prisoners".

One of the group, Vinnie, said it was the first time that he had ever seen a play and that it had been a privilege to see the Abbey in the prison. "I didn't know what to expect but it was magical. You look at them and think, this is what I want to do," he said.

From Thursday to Saturday this week, the Abbey is hosting a symposium around the production called The Theatre of Memory. Speakers will include President Michael D Higgins and Professor Declan Kiberd.

Irish Independent

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