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  • Writer's pictureHinton Magazine



A state of the nation look at the crisis in UK prisons co-created with families whose relatives died at HMP Woodhill

Summerhall, Main Hall, Venue 26. 2 – 28 Aug 2023 (not 3,14 & 21), 20.55 - 22.10

Written and directed by Matt Woodhead | Choreographed by Alezxandra Sarmiento

“Brave and astutely political ” ★★★★★ Whatsonstage (on Trojan Horse)

@lungtheatre @thenorthwall | #Woodhill |

Taking first hand experiences of three families whose loved ones took their own lives at HMP Woodhill, verbatim theatre company LUNG (Trojan Horse, Who Cares, E15) examines the state of UK prisons. Woodhill is a dance theatre piece that uses verbatim text from the family members read by actors over dynamic choreography to question the negligence and injustice within the countries’ prison system. As the number of people going into prisons rises and staff numbers are being cut, the show examines the value we place on the lives of those who have been incarcerated, focusing on three families demanding to know how and why their loved ones died. Known for their theatre, this is the first dance production from LUNG, with choreography by Alexzandra Sarmiento (original London cast of Hamilton).

HM Prison Woodhill is a Category A male prison located in Milton Keynes which opened in 1992. It has been repeatedly criticised by families, coroners, inquest juries, the prison and probation ombudsman and various review reports for staff shortages, insufficient staff training and poor inmate support. Woodhill is currently the UK prison with the highest suicide rate of any prison in the UK with 33 men taking their own lives while in custody. Coroners’ reports have noted the jail has repeatedly failed to meet requirements of national policy on suicide and emergency response.

Director Matt Woodhead said, “'This country is addicted to incarceration; we imprison more people than anywhere in Europe. At LUNG, we are proud to be standing shoulder to shoulder with Carole, Lee, Linda and Jan whose loved ones so tragically died at HMP Woodhill. These families deserve answers. There needs to be accountability for the death of their boys.”

Carole, Janet, Lee, Linda and Sophia said, “Our boys needed help, not punishment. They were given a prison sentence that turned into a death sentence. There is a crisis unfolding in our prisons. We will not stop until their story is heard.”

Founded in 2012, LUNG is a campaign led verbatim theatre company that tours work nationally. They work closely with communities to make verbatim theatre and hidden voices heard. LUNG creates work that shine a light on political, social and economic issues in modern Britain, using people’s actual words in their stories. Their previous Edinburgh productions include the award winning and critically acclaimed Trojan Horse (Summerhall) 'about teachers and governors who were falsely accused of instigating a plot to takeover Birmingham schools. The production won the Fringe First Award in 2018 and The Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award.

The commissioning of Woodhill was enabled by a grant from the New Play Commission Scheme, a project set up by the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, UK Theatre and the Independent Theatre Council, and funded by Arts Council England, the Theatre Development Trust and donations from actors, directors, playwrights and producers.

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