Wednesday 28 March 2018

Jokes, drama and heart felt political statements: A Celebration Of The Spoken Word had it all. A crowd of several dozen visitors mixed with Spinghill residents in the prison boardroom to hear the results of the second Kestrel Spoken Word project. Under the tutelage of Euton Daley and Amantha Edmead, a group of men had been brought together over the previous seven weeks to explore their creativity. Euton and Amantha had encouraged the men in their group not just in the construction of their work but in its delivery: performance was as much a part of the programme as content.

And the performance was magnificent. Pank set the evening off to a dazzling start with his warm, humorous tale entitled Firemen and Fairycakes. Giles then followed, telling a humorous short story full of innuendo.

After him came Kestrel alumni Sam, with a collection of his own poetry, his sonorous delivery filling the room with drama. Then Ricardo, another Kestrel alumni performed a poem written especially for the evening called ‘A World Without Charity’ pondering how the world would look without the kind of work that charities like Kestrel deliver. The warmth of his recollection of his work last year with Kestrel on the play he co wrote and took to The Royal Court Theatre was evident in every line.

The final piece was an extensive tale told by Giles and Pank, called Waiting (Waiting). Enigmatic, dense, filled with intrigue, their writing was superb. And their delivery even better.

The evening was rounded off with an award presented by the Butler Trust to Kestrel’s Arabella Warner. Named after the former Home Secretary Rab Butler, the award is given to those working effectively in the criminal justice system. Arabella had been recommended for the award by Nathaniel, a former Springhill inmate who had worked on two Kestrel projects in 2016. Now released and working in the television industry, Nathaniel had returned to the facility for the evening to explain precisely why he had nominated Arabella.

“I didn’t have to think about it,” he said. “Everything she and Kestrel has done is making a positive difference to prisoners’ lives.”