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On the Out  by Peter Hastings

Just one of nine pieces combined to form monolog 3, our new selection of fresh writing from within the Chickenshed community. Showing at Chickenshed from 11 to 22 February.

A man whose world never included prison has finally reached the day of departure. He drags his bag of belongings over the threshold and faces life ‘on the out’. He is late of course. The prison never does anything on time. His lift is late too. This gives us time to explore the bag of belongings and the memories and wishes that come with them - prison paperwork, letters, a prison-issue tin-opener. We start to see some of the life that has been built and lived inside and how that might be lost and missed ‘on the out’. Who is who outside? Who has moved on? Who is still important? Who can cope with a man with such large new experiences and the changes they have brought?

We learn some of the daily routine and bureaucratic lunacies on life inside, with comical, even farcical effect. The education and training, the uniform and the rehabilitation, the box-ticking and daily battle to fill the time. We reflect with our ex-prisoner on his weekend domino games, now come to an end, and wonder what else he will find to do in the new world ‘on the out’.

We go with our lead to the dark times in the secluded cell, struggling to hold a reality in which the heavy door does actually open again. Not just open again, but open to a time of space and friendly faces, sea and beauty. Will it always only open when a screw does the unlocking and will it always lead to just a change of cell on another squalid landing?

We meander with him through the battles to escape guilt and self-pity and to find some point to another day inside. How will that help in being judged and doing the judging ‘on the out’?

As time goes on we wonder with our man what baggage should stay or go and how long should the lift be given before he just goes off to explore life alone.

Performed by Olivier LeClair | Directed by Paul Harris