Performing Arts in Prisons (Book)

Creative Perspectives

This book explores prison arts in Australia, USA, UK, and Chile, and creates a new framework for understanding its practices. 

Category: Performing Arts


Across the world, performing arts programs are increasing in number, scope and professionalism. They attract increasing academic and media attention. Theoretical and applied research, organisational evaluation reports, documentary films and journalism are detailing prison arts and create recognition that this body of work is becoming a valued part of the correctional enterprise. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests music, theatre, poetry and dance can contribute to prisoner wellbeing, management, rehabilitation and reintegration. Performing Arts in Prisons: Creative Perspectives explores prison arts in Australia, USA, UK and Chile, and creates a new framework for understanding its practices.

Professor Michael Balfour is Professor of Theatre and Performance at the University of New South Wales, Sydney.

Brydie-Leigh Bartleet is Director of the Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre.

Linda Davey is a psychologist, theatre-maker, arts educator and academic, and was Research Fellow with the Captive Audiences project based at Griffith University.

John Rynne is Associate Professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Griffith University.

Huib Schippers is Affiliate Professor of music education at the University of Washington School of Music.

Notes on Contributors


Introduction: Performing arts in prisons - creative perspectives

Micheal Balfour, Brydie-Leigh Bartleet, Linda Davey, John Rynne and Huib Schippers

Chapter 1: A correctional perspective on the creative arts in prisons

Andrew Day

Chapter 2: Geese Theatre Company - 30 years on

Louise Heywood, Andy Watson MBE and Michael Balfour

Chapter 3: One Mob Different Country: First Peoples of Australia dance in Darwin Prison

John Rynne, Dennis Lew Fatt and Brett Schroder

Chapter 4: 'This place is full of drama queens': Reflecting on the value of drama in a women's prison

Sarah Woodland

Chapter 5: Through the looking glass: A voice from the inside 

Anya (pseudonym)

Chapter 6: Breaking the fifth wall: How performance might assist desistance from crime

Linda Davey

Chapter 7: Drumming interventions in Australian prisons: Insights from the Rhythm2Recovery model

Simon Faulkner and Brydie-Leigh Bartleet

Chapter 8: Arts in Corrections New Zealand

Jacqui Moyes

Chapter 9: The play's the thing: Performance in Prison Shakespeare

Rob Pensalfini

Chapter 10: 'Heart and heartbeat': Working beyond prison theatre, performing protagonismo social in the real world

Penelope Glass

Chapter 11: 'Strategies for success': Trusting the power of the arts

Maud Clarke

Chapter 12: Performing arts activities with hopes to build positive self-identity, heal harms and broaden the US public's perceptions of people inside prisons

Mary L. Cohen

Chapter 13: Unlocked: Prison poetry workshops as a key to engaging inmates

Johanna Featherstone and Huib Schippers

Chapter 14: 'Music is the colour of my skin': The story of the Murru Band

Dudley Billing and Dave Palmer

Concluding Reflections 

Micheal Balfour, Brydie-Leigh Bartleet, Linda Davey, John Rynne and Huib Schippers


Related Titles