Award-winning playwright Ruth Ratcliffe
Setting up a theatre company made up of prisoners and ex prisoners so they can help at-risk communities, is the ultimate goal of Ruth Ratcliffe, who's one of this year's Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Award Winners. Ruth's run drama classes at the Otago Corrections Facility for five years, including a production performed at the prison in Milton that went on to win a Dunedin Fringe Award last year. She's received the Corrections Maui Tikitiki a Taranga Award for her Forum Theatre programme that judges say inspires positive change in the prisoner participants and builds bridges with the wider community. In Forum theatre a situation is portrayed by actors, then the audience can ask the characters questions about the choices they made, and finally the actors replay the scene again encouraging audience feedback. Before moving to New Zealand Ruth was an actress in the UK appearing in shows including The Bill and Prime Suspect. But her work with prisoners she sees as her biggest achievement. Lynn Freeman spoke with Ruth, who was fighting off laryngitis at the time!