A Raisin in the Sun
In July 2016 the Irene Taylor Trust collaborated with Synergy Theatre to produce a live score for a theatre production of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun at HMP Thameside. A group of prisoners worked over three weeks to create six tracks with the project team Sara Lee, Nick Hayes, Charles Stuart and with support from composer Mark-Anthony Turnage.
In the final week the band, who called themselves Something Like a Blues Band, were joined by a choir who sang alongside them in the final two performances to audiences of prisoners, staff, family, friends and members of the public.
“I saw the crew as a group of talented actors and musicians, not as prisoners. Today I went to a theatre, not a prison. That is what I felt.” Audience member, HMP Thameside
The whole project included 19 prisoners as musicians, actors, and backstage crew, 15 of whom had no prior experience of musical or theatrical performance. In total, the projact impacted prison audiences of 186 over three performances to House Blocks, 70% of whom responded that experiencing the production had made them themselves want to engage with arts/drama activities.
“It has shown me that if I put my mind to it I can accomplish anything” / “It has the potential to truly rehabilitate” / “Extremely honoured to work with such professionals and for giving me an opportunity to work in a band” Feedback from Something like a Blues Band participants
Over the River and Beyond, an original track created for the production, went on to form part of our 21st anniversary celebration, the Bridges collaboration with composer Mark-Anthony Turnage, photographer Lizzie Coombes and groups of musicians from our three programmes Music in Prisons, Sounding Out and Making Tracks.
You can listen to the track and watch the rest of the Bridges collaboration below: