THE EFFECTS of solitary confinement upon prisoners is tackled in a new play which will be performed in London this month on World Mental Health Day.
Disorder Contained is a production created through a collaboration between researchers from the University of Warwick and University College Dublin (UCD) and the Coventry-based theatre group Talking Birds.
The group decided to approach the subject in order to “explore the devastating effect of solitary confinement in prison”, they said this week.
The play, which is fully titled Disorder Contained: a theatrical examination of madness, prison and solitary confinement, has already been performed in Britain and Ireland.
But it will be brought to London’s Rix Mix theatre in Shoreditch for two dates this month.
Set in the mid-19th century, Disorder Contained explores the ‘Separate System’, the spiritually-inspired implementation of solitary confinement introduced into British and Irish prisons and intended to enable prisoners to repent their crimes.
Professor Hilary Marland, Director of the Centre for the History of Medicine at the University of Warwick says,
“The Separate System was originally conceived by prison chaplains, doctors and governors as a way for prisoners to reflect upon their crimes and reform. Prisons were built to totally prohibit contact between prisoners, who wore masks when moved around the prison and were placed in individual stalls, or ‘coffins’, when attending chapel. Prisoners described how the regime put each man in his ‘private hell’.”
Talking Birds have worked closely with academics to interpret their research, drawing on contemporaneous documents such as prisoners’ memoirs, doctors’ and chaplains’ journals, and the reflections of prison staff.
Using music, song and humour the show explores the rationale behind solitary confinement and prisoners’ responses to it.
Disorder Contained is on at Shoreditch’s Rich Mix on Monday, October 9 and Tuesday, October 10 - which is World Mental Health Day.
There will be expert panel discussions after each performance.
For tickets click here