The Chat / Crime and Punishment

Arts House The ChatDevised by both artists and former prisoners, The Chat takes a dark and humorous look at the criminal justice system at Arts House – North Melbourne Town Hall for a limited season from 27 July 2016.

Led by theatre maker and former parole officer, J R Brennan, with actor David Woods (Ridiculusmus), The Chat is an administrative nightmare of comic proportions where offenders become parole officers, actors become criminals and the audience plays the parole board.

Against the steely beauty of a heavily surveilled interview room, ex-offenders share the stage with performers Brennan, Woods and Ashley Dyer to build a new world order for ‘justice arts’ – a world of crime stories, interpretive dance and bleak, possibly horrific, comedy.

Radically disruptive, The Chat transforms the theatre into a tense and liminal space where offenders stand on the brink of freedom, taboos unravel and everyone is put on trial.

J R Brennan is a director, performer and composer and his recent projects (The Chat, The Virtues and The Mark Of Cain) all draw on the auto-ethnographic research collected and observed in his role as a parole officer and throughout his work in experimental theatre in Australia and Europe.

Since graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts, Brennan has worked with Teatro Vertigem (Brasil); Wooster Group and Deborah Hay (America), Gardzienice (Poland) and he has performed throughout Australia, Germany, Japan, America, South America and Europe.

One hundred and fifty years since Dostoevsky’s masterpiece, Crime and Punishment – Arts House in association with The Wheeler Centre will discuss the enduring obsessions with transgression, retribution and justice. What purpose does punishment play in society? Is punishment good for you? And what is the connection between punishment, justice, catharsis and redemption?

The answers to these questions depend on who you ask. Facilitated by Madeleine Morris, she will be joined by former Pentridge Prison chaplain Peter Norden, female inmate advocate Debbie Kilroy, actor Uncle Jack Charles, Susan Shepherd, a former dominatrix with a lived experience of prison, and theatre maker J R Brennan.

The Chat
Arts House – North Melbourne Town Hall, 521 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne
Season: 27 – 31 July 2016
Information and Bookings:

Crime and Punishment
Arts House – North Melbourne Town Hall, 521 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne
Event: Saturday 30 July 2016 – 4.30pm
Information and Bookings: