Icon’s youth-led programme Theatre31 is built on the belief that all young people, regardless of their background, should have access to the life affirming power of the arts. And that is why our Theatre31 commission with Cookham Wood Young Offenders Institute is so close to our heart.

We’re thrilled to be joined by spoken word poet, Lady Unchained (Brenda Birungi) as Lead Artist of the Cookham Wood project. Inspired by personal experience, her mission is to prove that there’s life after prison.

In 2021/2022, Lady Unchained will be devising and facilitating a spoken word project over three 6-week courses. Each course will have just four participants, so everyone has a chance to spend quality time with the artist. It will be a safe space where self-expression is celebrated, and honest communication is encouraged.

Our goals extend beyond building the confidence and communication skills of each young person. We also hope that as our programme develops, we can build lasting relationships and cultural engagement with participants as they move onto the next chapters in their lives. The power of art to transform a person’s life has been proven time and time again. The key is getting the opportunity in the first place.

Co-commissioned by Theatre31 and Cookham Wood Institute, with the support of Medway Council, this new initiative is one of our most adventurous programmes to date. We hope each session will nurture a supportive and positive environment that unlocks the creativity and confidence of every young person involved.

Executive Producer: Theatre31
Co-producer: Medway Council, Libraries
Lead Artist: Lady Unchained                               
Workshop Assistant: Jay Wood (Theatre31)
Support staff: Cookham Wood Young People’s Institute


Image of Lady Unchained aka Brenda Birungi. Photo credit: Tom Pilston

‘It has been lifechanging. Lady Unchained has helped get my life changed, I’ve started to look for opportunities on the outside, and see that there is life after prison.’
— Young Artist, Cookham Wood Young People’s Theatre Programme

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