Dante or Die’s Artistic Directors Daphna Attias & Terry O’Donovan have been developing this new project since 2017, in collaboration with James Baldwin and with support from Synergy Theatre. The project is inspired by the first same-sex marriage in a UK prison - both men are serving life sentences for homophobic murders. This fascinating story inspires our new production in which audiences will experience a show that fuses music, movement and Dante or Die’s trademark up-close-and-personal storytelling.
It will be a bold and ambitious production that combines
- Sited in chapels or churches
- Audience sit on prison beds donated by HMP Holloway
- An ensemble of male ex-prisoners performing movement, music and dialogue surround the audience for intimate moments
- Embedded captioning
Our production will provoke discussions and debate about sexuality, the purpose of prison and the contradictions inherent within ‘equality’. There are strong underlying themes of masculinity and sexuality, society and repression. We are excited about the complexities of the narrative and the questions it provokes:
Is it a story of redemption, self-acceptance or rehabilitation?
Is it about power and coercion?
Should this marriage have been allowed? Should sex in prison be allowed? Is sex a human right?
We've had brilliant support from sector specialists Synergy Theatre, Geese Theatre & Clean Break.
The production is currently in development, with full production to be in 2024 co-commissioned by The Lowry & Ideas Test with funding from Cockayne Foundation, Awards for All & PRS Foundation. R&D has been supported by National Theatre New Work Dept, South Street Reading, York Theatre Royal, Stone Nest and funded by Arts Council England.
- Co-created by Daphna Attias, Terry O'Donovan & James Baldwin
- Composer: Yaniv Fridel
- Movement Director: Ayse Tashkiran
- Set Designer: Sophie Neil
- Video Designer: Virginie Serneels
- Access Associate: Sophie Gunn
- Musicians: Lady Lykez & Namvula Rennie
- Ensemble: Tonderai Munyevu, Ric Renton, Frank Prosper, Mark Williams, Martin Askew, Dave Wilson, Morgan Archer, Lucian Grant, Alex Cannon, Gilson Saiona, Karl Smith
- Production R&D Photos & Video by Justin Jones
We have been developing this project since 2017, during which time we have been learing about the UK prison system and arts that work within criminal justice.
We have had invaluable discussions with forensic psychologists specialising is working in prisons, prisoners, Governors and landing officers, criminologists and prison educators. This has included visiting a number of prisons across the coutnry, both working and decomissioned. We have had a number of research meetings with academics Nicola Carr (University of Nottingham) and Ian Feis-Bryce (Royal Holloway) who specialise in criminology. Nicola has created ground-breaking resarch in the Republic of Ireland about the LGBT+ experience within the Irish prison system. We are hoping to continue a collaboration as we develop the project.
Andy Watson, Artistic Director of Geese Theatre mentored the 2017 R&D period, helping us to build networks with companies specialsing in arts in criminal justice settings. For our 2019 R&D we partnered with Synergy Theatre, who work with prisoners and ex-prisoners to create excting new theatre, and deliver engagement workshops within prisons. 9 members of Synergy joined us for our artistic R&D as our performance ensemble.
Another element of our research was an exploration of the themes with queer groups. Commissioned by South Street and University of Reading’s Film, Theatre & Television Department we created conversations and workshop with LGBT+ societies and support groups in Reading. We also and hosted an incredibly vibrant symposium on Sexuality in Theatre where panellists included Chris Goode, Lucy J.Skilbeck and Travis Alabanza.
As we continue to build the show, this work will continue and feed into the final production, including regular workshops with the ex-prisoner ensemble.
Trailer Credit: Justin Jones
2020 & Ongoing R&D: We gratefully acknowledge the support from PRS for Music Foundation
2019 R&D supported by IGNITE - York Theatre Royal, and funded by Arts Council England.
2018 R&D seed funded by South Street & University of Reading’s Film, Theatre & Television Dept and funded by Arts Council England.