A report on two LUP2
with 2nd Year BA Students from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama:
One student realised that she was perhaps more apprehensive
about the process than the prison residents were. Inspired by
their eager willingness at being creatively discombobulated she
cited the inmates as being individuals to look up to; finding
that their sense of breakout now informed her own studies at
A young Exeter graduate looks forward to shadowing the LUP2
regards to hope, becoming and giving, I am willing myself to
live up to your hopes, just as we will the prisoners to lay
claim to their future and achieve their promise, courage
prevailing over cost. On
my existential bike rides, I often lapse into asking myself
why I am here, who am I here for, how am I meant to make a
contribution? The past few weeks have been quite personally
invigorating in terms of helping me define my own principles
and sense of self. I want to learn, I want to be, and I want
to contribute. Again, I am grateful for your inclusion and
repeated kindness to urge this mission on.
Thank you so much for sending this through to me. This is something
I am entirely passionate about. For if it weren't for programs such
a this. I wouldn't be where I am today, about to finish a degree in
acting! When I was 16 I got involved in an armed robbery and was
sentenced to 2 1/2 years. Of which I ended up doing 15 months inside
Ashfield Young Offenders Institute in Bristol. 9 months into my
sentence I met Jesse Jones, a director from the Bristol Old Vic, who
with theatre. Changed my life. Theatre in prisons is extremely
important to me. And I salute you for all the work you are doing
and it would be an honour to somehow be a part of this.
A young graduating drama student from Mountview
(himself an ex-offender) writes on receiving an invitation
to join an LUP2 session:
Hello Dr. Bruce,
The possibility of Oscar returning to revisit the work he has been
A noted teacher from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama,
Ross, writes in support of an inmate who got released the
day after his second LUP2/LSW Workout. Oscar was so
desperate to become a LUP2 member he called the prison the next
day saying he wanted 'to come back in to do this'.
with Bruce Wall and LSW for the Christmas presentation of PREPARE is
one such opportunity. I am aware of the complex, extensive and
protocols in prison but I have no doubt that Oscar's participation
would be mutually inspiring for all parties and really hope there is
a way to
make it happen.
Sadly this did not come
to pass but Brodie's generous support meant a huge amount to the
Charity and Oscar who, instead of LUP2, went on to take part in two
LSW workouts at RADA, one with UCLstudents and another at Oxford
University. Some might feel that was more than a fair trade.
actors respond to their Friday session:
Thank you so much for the opportunity, it was such a unique
and eye-opening experience. The work you do there is simply
fantastic and I was glad to be a part of it. Please reach out to
me if you think I could help out some other time as I'd be more
than willing to visit again.
Will wrote a telling blog brilliantly encapsulating
LUP: WHERE PROCESS IS PRODUCT philosophy.
You can read that
I'm just emailing to say thank you once again for an amazing
opportunity this afternoon. It was an absolute privilege and Joy
to work and see YOU work with the prisoners today. It really
warmed my heart, inspired me and has given me plenty food for
thought. To see their passion and commitment to the project was
amazing and overall an experience I'm beyond thankful for.
Thank you so much for having me along on Friday. It's a
really valuable thing you're doing with them and it is obvious
that the participants appreciate it, and they really have
potential to do some very fine work.
The workout has stayed with me at the forefront of my mind
since, and will continue to do so for a long, long time
still. .... Lastly I must say I think the Initiative is
truly glorious and a delight to behold and I am indebted to
you for such a wonderful opportunity and experience.
Finn Burge, UCL Student
talented artist, Gareth Morgan, writes a blog
about his experience drawing in a LUP2 session:
Absorbed in watching the Workout I tried to loosen my line but
there was a major problem as nobody stayed still for a moment.
Not to worry, they’ll soon stand still and do some Shakespeare,
This didn’t happen – I was watching a workout not a rehearsal
which can be more sedentary – instead I saw tapping and
stamping, animal evolution responses, rhythmic iambic pentameter
games, insults and curses in various languages – the bodies,
larynxes and minds of everybody in the group were fully engaged
and working hard.
The extraordinary Rose Bruford Head of Voice, Tess Dignan,
kindly wrote this fine verse following a LUP Session
Just out of Prison, - changed.
The weight of so many locks and keys
Soulless metal magnolia paint,
The smell of sweat and boredom
Waves of clanging
And a library full of dead books
And out of the fear came hope
And out of the hope came dusty souls
And we swung together
On the branches of poetry
And fresh air came into our lungs
And imagination filled the room with wild flowers
And we shared water and words and wit
And when we left we squeezed hands
I, to my freedom
Our residents, to a window
Which they took with them
Into their cells...
A young Central School graduate, Eoin McAndrew,
writes of attending a LUP2 Session
Thank you so much for the opportunity to observe and
participate in your work at Pentonville. It’s really fascinating
and the benefit to the men is obvious. Saying that I found the
benefit to my own work profound. I felt as if I had a third ear
going on stage that evening and other members of the cast said
they sensed this as well. They are all now eager to take
part. The men were a great group and very talented. If at all
possible, I’d love to come in for another LSW workshop in the
new year - if you’ll have me of course!
RANDOM TWEETS ..
sessions, demonstrating how it might feel to take
part in the
opportunities they offer.
Robyn Lister ...
Such a privilege. I can't wait to return.
You are doing phenomenal work.
James Glyn ...
Thank you @LUPRDC, @Pentonville175, @Tabacaria for the vital
work that you are doing. Still pinching myself after this
Joshua Boyd-Campbell ...
Had a great time working with the guys @Pentonville175 prison
today! Thank you @LUPRDC & @Tabacaria for having me on
Lydia Fleming ...
Cannot thank @LUPRDC, @Pentonville 175 enough for allowing us to
visit for today's Shakespeare Workshop. Inspiring,
wonderful people all round.
Elleanne Green ...
I spent today in Pentonville Prison watching prisoners
perform and dig down to find something amazing in themselves -
It was immensely moving
It was our huge joy to have CLARE BARSTOW attend a session and
the Christmas presentation of
PREPARE. Kindly she wrote an
article in the Prison Service journal 'INSIDE TIMES' about her
own LSW history and the import of the LSW/LUP2 work.
one of the actors, read some quotes by Joe Orton of his prison
experience as well as showing an image of a defaced cover which
is an artwork in itself. Leroy is incredibly articulate and is
due for release shortly. He has already been hired to appear in
a film next month, proving that the project is working by
allowing us all to have the will to dream. As Bruce quotes from
The Tempest at the end of each session, “We are such stuff as
dreams are made on.’
One of the talented artists recording the magic of the LUP2
through their own practical artistry, Kelise Franklemont, writes a magnificent blog on her experience and shares her
impressions of the work she witnesses.
Three more actors arrive, two whose names I can’t quite hear
over the musicians testing the newest phrase, the first tall and
well-met with the easy smile full of welcome, the second whose
spirit, unlike the others, is a carefully guarded mask. Still
I’m not convinced by the tough-guy-i-don’t-care exterior, who
pretends to be here for a change of pace – I can feel the gusto
with which he gathers his why-not in a fist to shout in chorus
“I’m free!” …and Daniel, a spark about to ignite… and I saw it happen
when he became an
old man, palsied and stumbling, unable to speak…around him
courage swelled and defied all weakness, to help him raise his
hand, grasping an imaginary torch that we all could see. And he
is a hero.
A young actor,
Jake Henderson, about to graduate from E15
writes on attending the Xmas presentation of
Having the opportunity to be involved with a rehearsed reading
with the London Shakespeare Workout at HM Prison Pentonville was an
experience I will cherish and harbour in my memory. From the moment
we met outside the prison we were kept informed about the day ahead
and detailed advice was constantly given. The prison staff involved
with the rehearsed reading were kind, welcoming and made us visitors
feel very much at ease within the environment. Meeting the inmates
and seeing their enthusiasm, drive and love for the craft of acting
was truly inspiring. Their work ethic was that of a professional
theatre company and it really went to show that no matter your
background, no matter what you have been through in your past, there
is nothing stopping you from reshaping your future and channelling
your energy into something productive, and something beautiful. And
nobody, not anyone, can take that away from you. I would be amiss
not to also congratulate the incredible work provided by the
actor-musicians from Rose Bruford, the music they devised was simply
magical. I would like to thank HM Prison Pentonville for allowing me
to see this phenomenal work take place and of course, my biggest
thanks to Bruce Wall, who lead the session and gave me the
opportunity to be involved. Bruce, your work continues to astound
and inspire me, thank you for everything you do, and I seriously
hope to have the opportunity to get involved again.
recent Oxford grad, Georgina Figgis, attending the same notes:
I wanted to express once again how grateful I am for the
opportunity to accompany you to Pentonville last week, and how much
I enjoyed watching PREPARE coming together. I was impressed by how
hard the men worked with such little rehearsal time, and I was
particularly inspired by talking to several of them after the
performance and hearing how passionate they were.
Joseph Langdon (referenced above) writes after his first LSW/LUP
session with the LUP2 lads. In a strange sense a homecoming of
Being at Pentonville was the most humbling experience I have
had in a while. The fearlessness and commitment was truly
admirable. Not to say I am surprised. Throwing themselves into
any challenge, quicker and with more vigour than a lot of actors
I have met. They would also find the truth, and their personal
connection to the text. And when I got up and did a Shylock
monologue to them, their support and attentiveness was fueling.
I felt so fortunate to be a part of the work they have been
doing. I only hope they continue the great work they are doing
inside and beyond the tall walls that surround them. It was a
gentle reminder for me to count my blessings and not take my
freedom for granted. Inspirational!
Finlay Stroud, OUDS (Oxford University) Workshop Co-ordinator writes
I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you but
I wanted nevertheless to express my heartfelt thanks for the
opportunity to come into Pentonville with you and see the incredible
work you and the inmates do together - they really were such an
inspiration. It was a joy to meet some of them, as well as the
fellow actors-in-training who were all lovely, lovely people. I
understand by now you will have taken others from our first workshop
last term into the prison as well - I hope they enjoyed it as much
as Georgia and I did. If you are interested, we here at OUDS would
love to be able to offer that opportunity to another cohort of
students, and were wondering therefore whether you’d be interested
in running another workshop this term?
young student from Oxford University, Phillippa Lawford, who had
LSW/LUP workout at Worchester College writes after attending the first
LUP2 preparatory session for
PRETEND (a theatrical etching of Pushkin's
Tale of Boris Godunov - additionally using Shakespeare - performed
both in Russian and English) in Pentonville's C3 (just down the hall
from where Oscar Wilde himself did time.)
Thank you so much for inviting me to join you at Pentonville on
Friday. I had an amazing and completely eye-opening experience
being part of the workshop, and I have been thinking and talking
about it nonstop since. It was really incredible to meet the
prisoners and watch them act. They were so talented and had such an
immediate and vital feel for the text which was really exciting
coming from the world of Oxford drama, which can be so stuffy and
pretentious. There were moments where I was really moved by the
emotion that some of them were able to convey so naturally and
truthfully, even on their first time reading the script.
A young thesbian, Barty Shepherd, an ALRA grad,
writes after attending the performance of
HMP Pentonville Chapel, 24.1.18
I just wanted to say thank you so much for yesterday. I have
never done anything like that before, and I am truly in awe. I went
in with no expectations of anything whatsoever, but I left truly
inspired, amazed and impressed. I felt inspired by the prisoners in
more ways than one; their performances were truly brilliant, and I
am not just saying that. Considering they mentioned that they had
little or no experience in drama before, and that they had only 8
hours of rehearsal total for Pretend, they truly performed
brilliantly, which is a credit to them and yourself. They were very
professional as well, there was no playing for laughs, breaking
character, not taking it seriously, etc., and they were so
committed, in both a professional capacity, but also in terms of
their performance; their vocal energy, physical energy and
commitment. I found a lot of their performances truly moving, and I
had such a lovely time chatting to as many as I could afterwards.
Thank you very much again Bruce, for allowing me to be part
of such an uplifting event, it has truly been an honour.
Alex Walker of Martin Gibbons Casting writes
after the same:
I just wanted to email to thank you again for having me to watch the
I really can’t stop thinking about it. It was wonderful.
To see them find such joy in the text and in performing it was so
brilliant. I was also really pleased to see some really lovely
acting and such wonderful team spirit.
What you are doing for those men is really transforming their
and self esteem.
I teach and run workshops myself and it was really inspiring to see
how much energy you give of yourself to the group. Really inspiring.
So thank you again.
The Casting Director, Irene East, writes:
you over and over for such an exhilarating afternoon. As necessary
for the visitors as the residents. And Pushkin in Russian blows
The Casting Director,
Sally Vaughan, exudes:
Dear Bruce - what a wonderful afternoon yesterday; I really enjoyed
being part of it and found everyone so interesting.
It was a very wonderful event and the inmates were great
actors! Didn't really speak to many of them unfortunately but
the time vanished when we were all chatting and drinking cups of
tea! Thanks again for inviting me; it was very special.
The Casting Director, Caroline Funnell, implores:
Dear Bruce, Jose and & Governor and Team at HMP Pentonville
Thank you so much for yesterday’s event. It was inspiring,
uplifting and deeply moving to be able to share in this
experience and most of all to realise how much this mattered to
the participants and how much they are gaining from the
I hope that this programme is able to continue both at
Pentonville and other prisons and reach many more inmates and
helping to change lives.
Thanks once again for both the invitation and the hospitality.
The Acting HMP Pentonville Governor, Dean Gardiner, responds:
Thanks for your email and I'm glad the program is going
well and am certainly happy to support it going forward
A noted Director / Translator responds:
I am feeling incredibly grateful for having been able to witness one
of Bruce Wall's theatre showings with inmates at Pentonville Prison.
The performances of all participants left a luminous and lasting
impression: so filled with presence, energy and expressiveness. It
is rare to find such unmannered, brave and subtle performances even
in professional shows. Each actor brought their full self and
individuality to their performances and yet fully embraced and
committed to their character. Bruce Wall is a magician and social
revolutionary to bring out such talent within the most dififcult,
adverse working circumstances. It's heart-warming to see what
theatre can do. This work needs to be supported, nourished, shown
and shared with the wider
Phoebe von Held
A Couple of the LUP2 Lads respond to their adventure:
When I first came into [workout space] my two upper front teeth had
been bashed out. 'A sign of defining character,' I kept
telling myself. It proved even MORE. It was a
fantastic advantage in learning how to project my voice and
enunciate. When I got those teeth fixed I was so much
more than just ready to perform. I 'jawed'
Lup2 Lad 1 - Vlad
For half a year I spent most days sleeping. Now I had a
reason to get up in the morning. For half a year I never
read a book. Now I've read 14 Shakespeare plays. In
so many ways I find I'm not in prison any more. I've
created a role for myself and been able to share it with others.
Above all this Tranche has provided for me the chance to
re-connect with my own heritage and, most especially, the
Russian language itself. I've found new music in it.
Part of that discovery was through working with the musicians.
It is so rare to hear anything live in this prison. Those
musicians' work invigorated ours and punctuated our scenes.
It was, in fact, like another character.
Lup2 Lad 2 - Shaw
In celebration of LSW's 20th Anniversary year
Luke Barber of the 'i' Newspaper wrote a most generous article: