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Wendi Peters and Rachel John cast in stage adaptation of prison poetry

Rachel John and Wendi Peters are cast in Rare Birds.
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Wendi Peters, Rachel John and Danielle Hope are to star in a stage adaptation of poetry about the first 100 years of Holloway Prison.

The piece, called Rare Birds – Voices of Holloway Prison, is based on poetry by Natalie Scott and will explore the penal system of this time. It also stars Oliver Savile, Martyn Ellis and Simon Thomas.

It has been devised by Simon Greiff, who also directs, and is being developed using money from Arts Council England.

The production features songs based on the poems by composers including Pippa Cleary, Rebecca Applin, Tim Sutton, Sarah Travis and Grant Olding.

It will explore the prison through the ”voices of prisoners, staff and others connected to its history” and will bring to life well-known voices such as Ruth Ellis, Sylvia Pankhurst and Albert Pierrepoint.

Greiff said: “On reading Natalie’s extraordinary collection of poems I instinctively felt that we had to bring these fascinating stories to life, and by creating a theatrical setting – using music, speech and movement – the memories and experiences of these historic, incredible people can live on.”

Scott said the poems had been written with performance in mind.

“I was keen to work with Simon as we shared a vision for the project from the outset. I’m so excited that some of the poems will be musicalised,” she added.

Rare Birds will have a workshop performance at the Soho Theatre on May 17.

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