The play is cast, the rehearsals have begun, and we find ourselves talking about the truth of the text and the place of the writer between these women from the 1960s and the audience of today.
Both Tony Parker and Roy Battersby have spoken about the amount of repetition and editing that is necessary in preparing a final text or programme. This meticulous working and reworking is an essential part of our endeavour too. We have read the book and watched the BBC TV Play, and are steadily working our way through the text to find our own version for our performance in January. The actresses are incarnating the words, choosing ways of speaking, ways of moving, and deciding what to can be left unsaid.
Our aim is to find something of the truth of each of these five women, most of whom must surely be dead now. Each of them poses quite a different question to us both about what it was to be a woman in the decades around the second world war, and also about the function of prison from the point of view of punishment, prevention, and of humanity.
In spite of the editing undertaken both by Parker and by us, the words spoken in the play are only those of the women in question. Nothing is added, the phrasing, vocabulary and sentence structure belongs to them.