In 2004, Theatre Nemo completed its first project with prisoners and HM Prison Barlinnie, in Riddrie, Glasgow. A number of the prisoners at Barlinnie suffer from mental health problems, and Theatre Nemo’s approach aimed to de-stigmatise this, and allow the prisoners to express themselves through drama.
Below is an excerpt from a letter to Theatre Nemo from the Deputy Governor of Barlinnie, following the production of Bar None:
“As I reflect on the event in the Chapel on Tuesday none of the initial euphoria has left me. I have been associated with Barlinnie off and on for the past 30 years and certain events have had a profound impact and stuck with me over the years. Tuesday’s event is one such example.
“I watched the performance with great feelings of pride that such an event could happen in Barlinnie and as the performance unfolded the content generated a range of emotions.
“This is the first time that we at Barlinnie have had the privilege to work with Theatre Nemo and I hope that there is more where that came from. Speaking to all the performers afterwards I was very impressed with the feeling of personal satisfaction that they all expressed and the sense that this was a team of equals who had worked hard to achieve a successful goal. This could not have happened without the support and encouragement of your team. I hope that you are as satisfied with the outcome as we at Barlinnie are.
“A large percentage of prisoners who come into Barlinnie suffer from mental ill health problems. The approach used by Theatre Nemo helps to de-stigmatise mental ill health and to see those individuals express themselves in the way they had to be seen to be believed. For most of the performers this was probably one of the first times they had done something for which they received positive feedback.
“Many people who suffer from mental ill health have low self esteem and feelings of low self worth. During the life of the project it was possible to detect improvement in self confidence and self worth. Following the Barlinnie Project I have no doubt that Theatre Nemo’s approach to supporting sufferers from mental ill health is extremely effective and uses methods which are very supportive.
“Please pass on my personal thanks to the other members of your team.”