An award-winning theatre production entitled Release is premiering at Dartington Hall on Thursday, 24 to mark the launch of a new project to help ex-offenders, ahead of a national tour.
The show, from physical theatre specialists Icon Theatre, explores what happens after an offender has served prison time, at a time when two thirds of UK prisoners re-offend within two years and probation services are facing controversial reforms.
Release fuses high-energy physical theatre, an original score and mixed media to create an explosive and moving insight into just how hard it is to go straight.
After the performance there will be an opportunity to discuss the themes of Release in the wider context of reform of the prison system. The discussion will be led by Erwin James, who turned his life around after serving a life sentence for murder, becoming a writer and respected voice in the campaign for penal reform. With such a unique perspective on offer, the evening promises to be an opportunity to explore some big questions for our society.
The performance will also mark the public launch of a project currently in development by The Dartington Hall Trust. Dartington LandWorks is a landscaping enterprise designed to help offenders reintegrate with their communities by giving the skills, training and support they need to find stable employment. This is shown to reduce the risk of reoffending. The post-show discussion will be an opportunity to find out more about the project.
Release was developed and created by Icon Theatre through a two-year process of research and interviews with ex-offenders, prisoners, probation officers, criminologists and hostel managers, as well as site visits to hostels, prisons and probation offices.
It previewed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2011 to great critical and audience acclaim, winning a coveted Scotsman Fringe First Award and was shortlisted for the Amnesty Freedom of Expression Award. The Times called the piece “sharp, impeccably performed and blazingly impassioned theatre… simply terrific.”
Tickets for Release are available at dartington.org/release or by calling 01803 847070.
After performing at Dartington, Icon Theatre will tour to London’s Arcola Theatre, the Newbury Corn Exchange, Oxford Playhouse, Colchester’s Mercury Theatre, the Hat Factory, Luton, and Chatham’s Brook Theatre.
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