softens the memory. The one thing that still
E stands out is the futility ofthe whole
; experience. A complete waste oftime for
everybody involved. I don‘t think the
1 experience did any lasting harm or good to
the inmates. it just allowed us to act out our
criminal fantasies for three months. The real I
deep psychological problems must be with
the warders who year in and year out are
several musical instruments. I ended up domg drama workshops and from there on '
trapped in their roles of brutal oppressors. After leaving Detention Centre my
probation officer encouraged me to go into
the arts. After failing to get the hang of .
to university to study drama. When I decided to become a playwright. the first thing I wrote was set in a juvenile Detention Centre. The Dorm. You can catch it and a more detailed account of D.(‘. life in Spring 1992 when it tours Scotland. Please give generously!‘ b
Inferno by Lance Flynn (Fringe) Mandela Theatre Company. Theatre Workshop (V(’Iill(’20) 2265425, anti/3] Aug. 2pm, £4 (£3).
Bad (Fringe) (irassmarkei Pro/eel, Ainslie Park Leisure ( 'enire ( Venue l3())551 2400, 19—31 Aug, 6pm, [(2 (£4).
‘Everyone’s stuck with the idea that we’re bad, but I can’t think myselt that way; I’m just living, now I’m outside, trying to live the way I know how,’ says Jimmy Watson, ex-prisoner and amateur actor.
The origins and nature oi evil, or ‘badness’, how society views people it detlnes as bad, how they view themselves— it’s one oi the Big Subjects tor literature or drama, but iew variations on the theme start irom the experience at those actually labelled in this way. A laudable exception is the Grassmarket Project’s iollow-up to last year’s success, Glad. Just as that play looked at homelessness and vagrancy, casting homeless Edinburgh men in most at the roles, Bad takes on crime and punishment, and is periormed largely by ex or current inmates at a young oilenders’ institution.
‘It gives me the chance to tell an audience the truth about what it means to be in prison, and have them listen,’ says Scott Maclean, recently released. ‘It you try to tell people individually they don’t want to know, but with this it’s like we’ve all got one big mouth to speak with.’
The play is in etiect the story oi its own origins, locuslng on a drama class in a prison, like the one director Jeremy Weller taught at Polmont. and reilectlng his experience at working
' there. Weller emphasises that Bad is
not trying to push any crude ‘message’ about prison or prisoners. ‘lt’s complicated,‘ he says. ‘lt’s not a simple matter oi saying, here are these boys, this is exactly how they are. There are lots at areas at their lives the play doesn’t even touch on. But I hope the main subject will be there -that these boys live in this way— and the questions: how, why, what’s to be done, is there anything to be done? We're not out to do a hatchet job on the prison system. Yes, it’s political, anything that deals with real human beings is, especially it they're playing their own parts, but the play isn’t telling you how to think, it’s up to you to make up your own mind atteryou've seen it.’
Bad presents many challenges, not least theatrical ones such as
I generating a convincing sense at , coniinement in a Fringe venue. ‘lt’s
impossible to re-create the
: atmosphere at a prison outside,
periorming in a spotlessly clean
i gymnasium,’ says Weller. ’Butthe
boys carry the prison about with them;
; the atmosphere at the play comes irom
’Aye, that’s right,’ chips in Stephen, lrom Polmont. ‘You’ve got to remember, we have to go back every night. We don’t lorget what it's like.’ Many oi the audience will never know
I ‘what it’s like’; the challenge to them is
to listen with an open mind to those who do. (Sue Wilson)
Bad (Fringe) The Grassmarket Project. . Ainsley Park Leisure Centre (Venue
130) 551 2400, until 31 Aug, 6pm, £6
The List lo - 3.‘ August lWl 9