Last year we were commissioned by HMP Featherstone to write and deliver a performance exploring the issue of debt in prison. Prisoners often get into debt by ‘borrowing’ tobacco or drugs from other prisoners and then have to pay back their debt plus ‘interest’ of up to 100%, commonly known as ‘double bubble’. If individuals fail to pay their debt, the interest is increased and spirals out of control with violence being the inevitable punishment for non-payment.
Our interactive piece, Broke, followed the stories of two prisoners who become embroiled in debt, was performed to 60 prisoners at HMP Featherstone. It posed questions about how this issue might impact on prisoners’ family and friends and about how individuals might deal with debt or avoid it in the first place. Audience members clearly related to the experiences explored and were forthright and vocal in their advice to the characters. Both staff and prisoners stated that the piece strongly reflected the reality of this insidious problem.
In 2016, we received funding from Money Saving Expert to deliver Broke, along with workshops exploring the theme in further detail, for a number of prisons.