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Provocative works by women prisoners

December 7, 1994 Media release by Rosemary Cadden

Provocative, startling and sometimes shocking works by inmates at Northfield Women's Prison are woven into a music/theatre performance which opens tonight at the Parks Community Centre.

Stretch marks performed by community actors and ex-offenders, explores the similarities between the experiences of women prisoners in 1994 and life in prison for Elizabeth Woolcock hanged for murder in Old Adelaide Gaol more than 100 years ago.

The production is a result of workshops inside Northfield Women's Prison Complex and the South Australian Youth Training Centre which have been conducted since June by a team of community artists including a photographer, songwriter, musician, choreographer, playwright/poet and visual artist.

As well as the script and songs created from the women prisoners' writings, the production will be accompanied by an exhibition of photographs and written work.

Stretch marks, a Women's Suffrage Centenary event, has explored the experiences of incarceration - mother/child separation, marriage and partners, suicide and self mutilation, the treatment meted out at arrest and in the courts, and the daily grind of doing time.

Common threads include drug abuse, child abuse and rape, violence, dysfunctional family life, poverty and domestic violence.

Several of the women contributing material have also been found guilty of murder.

"The women have responded to the Stretch marks project like sponges," said artist/writer in charge of the project Kiersten Coulter.

"The Arts has a significant role to play in the lives of disadvantaged groups.

"Overseas, much rehabilitatin is focussed through the arts with clear qualitative and quantitiative results.

"It is a pity Australia is a bit slow in picking this up and running with it."

Stretch marks is performed by Murray Park Theatre Company, accompanied by the Stretch Marks women's band of professional musicians and a new talented young Aboriginal band performing all the original songs and music.

The exhibition in the foyer of the Theatre Complex will be officially opened on Friday.

Performances of Stretch marks run from Wednesday 7th to Saturday 17th December.


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