Inmates relate to message in plays

Otago Corrections Facility prisoners and staff watch the play Verbatim yesterday. Photo supplied.
Otago Corrections Facility prisoners and staff watch the play Verbatim yesterday. Photo supplied.
Hard-hitting plays about the criminal justice system have won over the most hardened critics.

This week, an Auckland theatre company performed in front of prisoners at the Otago Corrections Facility, as part of a nationwide tour.

The plays, Verbatim and Portraits, were first toured two decades ago.

They were written by actor Miranda Harcourt and playwright William Brandt after they visited prisons and interviewed people affected by crime.

One prisoner, whose offending spanned 25 years, said he related to the plays and ''it gave me inspiration to change my lifestyle''.

Another offender said: ''There was a direct correlation between what was playing out before us and parts of our own lives.

''It allowed us to look at the skills we now possess to stop similar situations occurring for us and breathe a new life for us.''

Other prisoner comments included a recommendation school pupils see the plays.

''Kids don't get educated in drugs and alcohol, violence or sexual abuse.''

Another prisoner said one scene ''reminded me of my own mother, who only visited [him in prison] once''.

''Society needs to change their way of thinking. Reintegration into society is key,'' another prisoner noted.

The plays - which featured actors Renee Lyons, Jodie Rimmer and Fraser Brown - will be performed next in Invercargill at the Scottish Hall on Wednesday and Thursday.

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