Pioneering play set to be performed in Wandsworth Prison

A play set in 1916 Wandsworth Prison is to be performed for inmates in the prison’s chapel this May.

The play named, Traitors, Cads & Cowards, written by Martin McNamara will be performed for inmates on Tuesday May 15, while a showing for the public is available on Monday May 14 as part of Wandsworth Arts Fringe.

As a precursor to the show, some of the plays cast will be reading monologues written by current prisoners who attended writing groups with Mr McNamara at the prison.

Mr McNamara said of the monologues: “I didn’t know what to expect, the pieces are funny, intriguing, and imaginative.

“Many deal with today’s society. There’s a lot of talent there.”

The prison is backing the scheme and its positive benefits on inmates.

A Prison Service spokesman said: “Rehabilitating prisoners is crucial to reducing reoffending and workshops such as this help offenders turn their backs on crime.”

The play itself is part of the annual Wandsworth Arts Fringe and is the first time the prison has been involved with the WAF.

The WAF is an open arts festival open to the public funded by Wandsworth Council.

Mr McNamara was invited to take his play to Wandsworth Prison by then acting prison governor Natasha Wilson after seeing the play in Kentish Town in 2016.

Mr McNamara said: “The prison was very generous in helping me research this drama and we are delighted they have invited us to bring our production in to perform in front of the inmates.”

Born and raised in Battersea Mr McNamara said that apart from Battersea Arts Centre there is not much in the borough to showcase theatre which is why he supports WAF.

“By bringing theatre to parts of London they don’t usually go, and to play in front of audiences who are not used to going to the theatre, it’s a good way to get different opinions. I hope they enjoy,” he said.

The play, directed by Anne Curtis, is based on historical fact and stars Aonghus Weber, Aidan Casey and Ben Waring, focuses on the relationships of three Wandsworth prisoners at the height of World War I.

The play tells the story of what might have happened had a captured volunteer from the Rising movement in Dublin, shared a cell with a conscientious WWI objector and a deserter from the battlefield.

The Wandsworth Arts Fringe festival runs for two weeks beginning May 4 with more than 180 events including comedy, music, dance, exhibitions and theatre across South West London.

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