Letters from the inside

Insights into life on the inside is at the heart of a unique live production being staged at the Old Castlemaine Gaol this Friday.
Letters from the Inside is a spoken word performance of letters written by men and women serving sentences in central Victorian prisons – Tarrengower, Middleton and Loddon.
The project’s creator is experienced community arts professional and literacy advocate, Lisa D’Onofrio, who came up with the concept through her work delivering creative writing and literacy programs in local prisons.
Lisa says the letters on which the production is based were penned by prisoners during their writing sessions and the performance project secured Creative Victoria funding.
“I’ve been working in the prisons for about six years now and it was really an extension of the work that I’d already been doing,” Lisa says.
“It was an opportunity to get their work out there. Having a voice is really important in our society. This kind of work is important but I also think it will be very entertaining.”
In prisons, letter writing is still practised as much of the communication that occurs between inmates and the outside world is via the hand-written word.
An inclusion on the Regional Centre For Culture calendar, Letters from the Inside is directed by Castlemaine Theatre Company president Kate Stones and will be performed by local actors Donna Steven, Stephen Mitchell and Hector MacKenzie.
“As a performer what you’re trying to do is to convey the thoughts and feelings of the people as they’re writing these things which are personal and private and only intended for the person that they’re writing them to,” Stephen says.
“So in a way there’s an interpretation there and a projection of yourself into the mindset of the person writing the letter. This gives you an insight into the humanity of people in that situation.”
The unique performance takes place twice this Friday July 6 at Old Castlemaine Gaol, 6pm and 8.30pm with a matinee performance to be staged at the historic Maryborough Railway Station cafe at 2pm on Saturday July 7. Online bookings through TryBooking.

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