I’m chilly, hungry and this…place, if you can call it that, is dark.
When we were first bought into the prison they had us all strip down in front of each other, it so totally embarrassing, getting completely nude in front of all these strangers, where it felt like all their eyes were boring into each part of my body.
I felt each and every one of their eyes were devouring me and consuming my every inch of my soul. I felt so violated, as if I had been raped, robbed of my dignity and privacy with all these strange faces just staring into me with cold steel eyes.
At first, before we were actually allowed to change into our prison clothes, we were allowed to have a shower. It was awful, the soap was in a dish surrounded by water and it was brown and encrusted with dirt, I couldn’t bring myself to use it so I just rinse myself as best as I could. The soap wasn’t the only dirty thing, the clothes that they gave me were filthy and it smelled I’m sure of every single person who has ever, ever worn it. My clothes were the last part of my identity left after I had been arrested, but now, now to them I’m just another cellmate, a mere number that can be locked away as they see necessary.
My actual cell itself is off putting, its small and cramped, plus I’m sharing it with three other people. Three total strangers whom, for the next 5 years, will be my friends, my family and my only way of entertainment. And although we haven’t spoken to each other much I have a feeling that we will soon have a connection with each other, after all who else are we suppose to turn to now that our social life is confined to this small square room but each other.
When we were placed into our cells at 8 pm I figured we would be let back out again, but we never were, we were to stay locked up until the guard shouted that it was lights out. For those hours we spent together we were able to get to know each other, not totally, but I can see that we will be able to get along. Those hours were spent talking not only to get to know each other but simply of lack of something else to do.
Sleep was near impossible, even being surrounded by three other people I have never felt so alone and so…trapped. My mind was racing; clouded with memories of “home”, my daughter, and my family and even after I fell asleep I was not at all comfortable. I awoke from nightmares drenched with sweat and with a tight feeling in my lungs; I couldn’t breathe, and there was a chilling feeling in my spine, of the thought that I was in here for 4 years and 30 days.
I never slept properly that first night, my mind was occupied with the fact that I was trapped and that after these 5 years my life will never again be the same.
Today was different… well as different as it can get in here.
Today for the first time in months I had a visit. I thought it was my mother and I was looking forward to it, but when I went out in the visitors’ room I found my daughter waiting for me. The feeling that I got was mixed, I was happy to finally see her after so many years, but I didn’t want her to see me like this. Like a cold hard convict, that’s not how I want her to remember her mother.
She came into the room and I could see that she was nervous and frightened; she kept looking around as if she expected something to happen. I felt so ashamed; it was my fault that my daughter had to be brought into a circumstance like this.
When I looked at her she seemed so much taller and grown up than when I had last seen her, but her eyes and features were the same, and when she started talking I realised that she was still my petite princess.
She told me all about school and her friends and her father. I realised in full just how much of her life I had missed. Everyone had always said “Oh, its only 5 years”, but when I looked at my daughter sitting there, talking about her life without me I realised that 5 years was a lot longer than anyone had expected it to be.
Towards the end of her visit my daughter reached over to give me a hug, and when the guard shouted to her to not pass anything to me… the fear in her eyes was heartbreaking.
All the way throughout the visit I had been so cheerful and happy, for my little girl I didn’t want her to see her mummy cry. As soon as I returned to my cell I broke down into tears. Not tears of sadness, but of anger, how could I have allowed myself to sink so low to the point that I had to be imprisoned. How can my life outside ever be normal again, I’ve totally destroyed my life, my family’s life, my husband’s and my daughter’s. HOW WILL I EVER BE ABLE TO LIVE WITH MYSELF?
But I have to somehow for my daughter’s sake, my family and for my mine.
In preparation for our first spontaneous improvisation all we were allowed to do was get into our groups of three or four and tell each other about our characters names were and what their age and family history were. This discussion was only allowed for about three minutes as any longer would have defeated the purpose of the improvisation.
Once we had spoken to each other about our characters we were then called up group by group to perform our improvisations.
The group I was in was made up of three girls that got on with quite well and I thought that this helped to provide the feeling that we knew each other well and this was useful as the whole point was to put across the feeling that we had been trapped together so long that we knew all there was to know about each other. This was to provide a good enough contrast to when we had first been put into prison and it was used to portray a sort of bond that we had formed and possibly even friendships which was to show that even in such a dismal situation you can still find a way to connect.
The only change I would have made to my character in the improvisation is that I could have reflected more of what had happen to her in the past, and I could have shown how it had affected how she reacted to certain situations as I felt that my performance lack the feeling of history or a past as during my role play I did not mention my family or why I had been put into prison.
My character is not the only thing that I would have changed in our Improvisation because even though we brought through the idea that we knew each other well, there was still the feeling that we didn’t know much about each other’s past as the discussion that we had with each other in our cell was mainly based on what was happening at present time rather than having any reflection of what had happened in our pasts. I don’t think this mattered much as the point of the improvisation was to show that we knew each other so well that we were no longer interested in each other’s past as we knew it all already, and I feel quite positive that this aspect was shown throughout the entire role-play.
In another section that we used to understand the perceptions of time we used the translation of a French poem known as “At the Florist’s” by Jacques Prï¿½vert as our stimulus. The poem used the concept of making a decision and the portrayal of death.
In my group of four we took the aspects of death and making decisions from the poem “At the florist’s” and combined it with crosscutting and with narration.
Once we did this we discussed the plot of the play. We decided the use the theme of drugs and money and decided that we were going to intertwine this idea with the theme of friendship.
We came up with the idea of using the basis of a moral story in which we would have a hidden message that would make our audience think more profoundly about the play that had just been performed. The moral was used as a spine for the story and the plot progressed from the idea of putting in a moral.
We used crosscutting in the way of video symbols such as the idea of pausing, rewinding, and fast-forwarding to jump through certain parts of the scenes, slowing them down and stopping them. This was used to allow the narration to be upheld and to keep our audience up-to-date on why exactly something was happening and to draw attention to a particular part of the play.
The crosscutting and Narration was used so that the audience would not find it difficult to follow the plot and also so that the play did not run for too long, which would have caused it to become complicated and confusing.
The play featured the idea of alter egos who were used to express the inner thoughts of each character and they were also used to explain to the audience why the person was resorting to doing what they were doing.
This whole effect was done by the means of allowing the alter egos to step out of the play and actually talk to the audience and make them feel included in the proceedings of the play.
The video control was our way of playing with time to give it a comic side and to emphasis the movements and emotions throughout the entire play.
The video control in the play was also useful to make sure that we never strayed too far from the whole concept of the play as this would have not only taken us off the task but it would have also destroyed the hidden moral that my group had placed in the backdrop of our story.
The Drama performed helped me understand life in prison more, this was because I feel that if I had just read a person’s account I would have thought to myself that it was a terrible situation to be in, but then I would forgotten what the person had spoken about. However by putting myself into the shoes of someone who is actually in this situation I was able to be more sympathetic and empathetic towards what someone of my character would be feeling and thinking in this situation. I got the whole idea that my character was filled with remorse over the crime that she had committed and you could see that the reason she had done it was completely unselfish. This was good because when people think of prison they think of murderers, rapists and paedophiles, and many of them don’t realise that there are people in prison who have committed what could be called tame crime, and that these people are remorseful
In my improvisation of a visit in prison, I was given and insight into how someone in prison must feel when they are confronted by someone from their family. I was able to relate with the shame and ill conscience they must feel for having put that person whom they love dearly through such pain, misery and shame by having to come into prison in the first place.
My character’s conscience would have been even more clouded by the fact that she was visited by her 13 year old daughter, and as any loving parent would know, prison is not the place for any person much less for a child and as I could feel this I realised that my character was not a cold, hard criminal but was in fact a person who had taken a wrong turn in life.
Through writing the diaries I was able to feel sorry for my character and others as I got a look into her mind and her heart, which helped me to truly understand that some people who are in prison are constantly plagued by what they had done and what effect it might be having on their family.
In the section we did based on the stimulus of the poem “At the florist’s” there were a lot of other plays that had focused on the idea of death and making a decision.
There was one such group that were particularly good, as they had used the following skills in the entirety of their play.
* They used a variety of gestures and use of space. Their play was about someone taking drugs and feeling its effects.
* They showed us how the person felt that everyone around was moving slower than them.
* The way that each person in the group related to each other showed a sign of real friendship.
* The play was set in a nightclub and the group were able to show a real use of space, this was done by them spreading out the set by having the toilets over in a different corner so we had a real feeling that their friends really couldn’t see what was happening in them.
* The group set the play so that when 2 members of the group were in the toilet taking drugs the others were outside moving in slow motion
* The point at which the friends actually took the drugs was done in slow motion to emphasis the importance of the scene as this was the part of the play that was focusing on the whole idea of making a decision.
* After this the friend who had a bad reaction to the drugs moved extremely fast while the others were moving in slow motion this emphasis to us and it allowed us to realise that this was all due to the effects of the drugs that the friend had taken previously in the toilets.
This and the other plays allowed me to see into how because of a certain situation people can feel that time is moving extremely slow or extremely fast, which was just a reflection of the whole theme of the Perception of Time.