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ELIZABETH FRY: THE ANGEL OF PRISONS Will Be Staged in The Elizabeth Fry Room At Canning Town Library

Performances run 22 - 27 August, 2022.

ELIZABETH FRY: THE ANGEL OF PRISONS Will Be Staged in The Elizabeth Fry Room At Canning Town Library

Three prisoners have a story to tell. It's the story of Elizabeth Fry and how she changed prisons forever. But this is not a history lesson. You'll hear both contemporary and historical language. You'll see both modern-day and period mash-up costumes. Because the question remains the same today as it did in Elizabeth Fry's time: does prison actually work?

Elizabeth Fry is forever linked to Newham because she and her husband lived from 1829 to 1845 in Upton Lane House, West Ham. In addition to her prison work, she was a regular visitor at gypsy encampments in Plashet, dispensing food, clothing and medicine to the local Gypsy and Irish communities.

'Elizabeth Fry: The Angel of the Prisons' is the latest instalment in The Newham Plays, a series of site-specific, localist-focussed plays rooted in Newham's history, culture and people, created and written by James Kenworth.

The plays are a unique collaboration between a writer, director, designer and professional actors working alongside students from Newham schools and young actors from local youth groups/theatres.

It continues the collaboration between writer James Kenworth and director Martin Charlton,
following 'Gob', starring ex-Take That star Jason Orange at the King's Head Theatre, and 'Revolution Farm', "a terrifically powerful update...Highly recommended" - The Independent, an update of Orwell's 'Animal Farm' staged on an inner city farm in Newham.


English prison reformer Elizabeth Fry. Elizabeth Fry lived in Plashet House in East Ham between 1809 and 1829 when she moved to Upton Lane in Forest Gate. She has sometimes been referred to as the 'Angel of Prisons'. Fry was a major driving force behind new legislation to make the treatment of prisoners more humane, and she was supported in her efforts by the reigning monarch.

In 1813 Elizabeth Fry made her first visit to Newgate prison where she observed women and children in terrible conditions. Elizabeth began working for the reform, campaigning for segregation of the sexes, female matrons for female prisoners, education and employment (often knitting and sewing) and religious instruction.

In 1817 Elizabeth Fry created the Association for the Improvement of Female Prisoners and along with a group of 12 other women lobbied authorities including Parliament. In the 1820s she inspected prison conditions, advocated reform and established more groups to campaign for reform. In 1823 prison reform legislation was finally introduced in Parliament.

Like previous Newham Plays, 'Angel of the Prisons 'will be performed by professional actors and local young people, and following the production, an Elizabeth Fry Education Resource Pack will be produced and free drama workshops run in our partner schools.

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