Theatre opportunity to deter people away from life of crime

Theatre opportunity to deter people away from life of crime

By Adele Forrest | 30/12/2020

Theatre opportunity to deter people away from life of crime
Rachel Staniforth, head of the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit

A NEW theatre initiative is looking for people who want to take a different direction in life away from crime.

Beyond the Walls is part of Shakespeare UnBard which works with those caught up in the criminal justice system and offers them the opportunity to set up and run a collaboratively-owned theatre company. 

Founder of Shakespeare UnBard, Rowan Mackenzie, has been working in prisons across England since 2017 and has won multiple awards for the theatre companies she co-owns with the actors inside.

The initiative will offer people from the age of 18 the opportunity to work together to produce one of William Shakespeare’s famous plays that will be performed to family members and friends.

Rowan describes them as an opportunity to “work together as equals to create theatre”.

Rachel Staniforth, head of the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit said: “This initiative is something really different and one that we were very keen to get involved with and bring to South Yorkshire.

“The revolving door of the criminal justice world for many people means that they never get the opportunity to change. This project will allow those who have served their time in prison and accepted their punishment, a time to reflect and change their future. 

“It will offer them the new skills and confidence to change and be the person they want to be.”

The Beyond the Walls initiative will run on Monday evenings from January 4 at the Mega Centre, Bernard Road, Sheffield, funded by the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit. 

It will give everyone involved the opportunity to try their hand at acting, boost their confidence and make decisions as a group as to how the production comes together. No acting experience or knowledge of Shakespeare or of theatre is needed and full support will be given.

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner said: “I am always looking for ways of supporting those people who have been involved in criminality to turn their lives around. This project is something really imaginative and different. I am pleased we can support it through the Violence Reduction Unit.”

For more information and to book a place, contact rowan.m.mackenzie@gmail.com.