A project telling the lockdown stories of offenders and people with experience of homelessness will be transformed into a powerful live show and tour 15 prisons this spring.
Paperchains Live – featuring voiceover from Stephen Fry as a hapless prime minister – explores the impact of Covid-19 restrictions and isolation on marginalised people, including prisoners who faced spending 23 hours a day in their cells for months at a time.
The play was created by Sam Ruddock and Gary Lee, both recovering addicts who worked with playwright Nell Leyshon and Jo Billingham, theatre director at arts organisation The Outsiders Project.
“Paperchains was created out of a need to help people who were struggling during the pandemic,” said writer and prison librarian AG Smith, who founded the project alongside David Kendall, creator of in-prison arts festival Penned Up.
Through Paperchains, the pair began collecting stories, poems and artworks from disadvantaged people at the height of lockdown in 2020.
“Our chosen communities have always had a voice but those voices haven’t always been heard. Paperchains has now made them part of history so that future generations can understand what lockdown was like for them,” added Smith.