A riveting, energetic new Australian drama about a group of youths struggling to survive in Tasmania’s Point Puer Boys’ Prison, Point of No Return by Alaine Beek will be presented at selected regional venues and the Melba Spiegeltent throughout July and August 2018.
Established in 1834, Point Puer Boys’ Prison is located next to Port Arthur Prison and was the first of its kind for the British Empire; an experiment that aimed to rehabilitate young offenders. On opening, there were 68 boys aged from 10 to 20 years old.
The inmates were given the opportunity to learn a trade, read, and write, but this was sporadic and depended on the skills and attitudes of the guards, many of whom were once prisoners at Port Arthur. Living conditions in the prison were rough, and punishments were often brutal.
“I found it incredulous when researching Point Puer that, despite their circumstances, these kids still managed to find humour in their lives and took ridiculously stupid risks just to lash back at authority,” said writer and director, Alaine Beek. “Putting youths in such horrific circumstances to fend for themselves is hard to fathom.”
“The fact that Point Puer was the British Governments first attempt ever at separating boys from men in prisons AND attempting rehabilitation instead of punishment is astonishing and, for its time, groundbreaking. And for all its many failures it also had successes – many of the youths survived and became the first colonists of Australia.”
“Yet I find it difficult to comprehend a ten year old boy being put on a prison hulk and sent to Australia. It would have been horrifying,” added Beek.
Centering around a group of young convicts, Point of No Return is a journey of boys becoming men – of youths desperately seeking a place to belong. A powerful exploration of loyalty, betrayal, and gang mentality, this important new work also explores rehabilitation versus punishment in the prison system – a topic still heavily debated today.
Offering a rare glimpse into a little known corner of Australian history, littered with struggle and hardship, Point of No Return is a unique tale of hope, as many of these boys left Point Puer to become Australia’s first colonists.
Operating since 2003, Essence Productions is one of Melbourne’s longest running, successful independent theatre companies. With a residency at the Werribee Park, their shows What Was That and Down To Earth have been performed each weekend for the past 15 years and have been seen by over 14 000 thrill-seeking theatre lovers.
Headed by award-winning playwright/actor Alaine Beek, Essence Productions is an ensemble of professional artists dedicated to creating and producing original theatre through the discovery and exploration of real Australian stories.
Writer and Director: Alaine Beek Featuring: Will McDonald, Alex Roe, William Farnsworth, Jeremy Withers, Phil Cameron-Smith Sound Design: Michael Withers Costume Assistant: Vicky Withers Stage Manager: Ness Harwood Assistant Producer: Alan Thompson
Point of No Return will be presented at Wyndham Cultural Centre (27 & 28 July), The Melba Spiegeltent, Collingwood (1 – 11 August); and Frankston Arts Centre (17 August). For more information, visit: www.pointonr.com for details.
Image: Jeremy Withers, Will McDonald, Will Farnsworth and Alex Roe feature in Point of No Return – photo by Reuben Duffy