A WRITER who rose to fame with an autobiographical play is experiencing life behind bars.

Rony Bridges had previously come to the attention of the Scottish Prison Service after showings of his play Six And A Tanner in Barlinnie and Shotts jails.

The play, which starred Glasgow actor David Hayman, depicts searing moments of Rony's life and the psychological abuse from his parents in Springburn in the 1950s, and seemed to make an impression on the inmates.

His appointment as Playwright In Residence also comes as the prison service last week marked Prisoners' Week Scotland, which aims to get community groups and representatives talking about matters that concern prisoners and victims of crime.

Mr Bridges said: "I had a lengthy chat with Barlinnie governor Derek McGill because Six And A Tanner had resonated so much with the inmates in Scottish prisons.

"He wanted me to work with James King, who is head of learning and skills with the Scottish Prison Service and is also a writer, and it just came about that I could do something with them there.

"I was asked to put in a proposal, which was working with the prisoners to produce a play using their own experiences.

"I wanted to create a play that would be classified as their work to be performed in Barlinnie and other Scottish prisons."

The writer and actor has titled his first project in his residency The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword, which will last for three months with a performance at its close.

After this, he is also hoping for grants that will allow the finished article to be performed in commercial theatres.

Mr Bridges, who lives in Newlands, hopes the project will help towards reducing the high reoffending rate – one in five offenders have at least 10 previous convictions.

He added: "Prisoners have a real appetite to write because there is so much conflict, not just with the system and the state, but with other individuals, their families and within themselves.

"It is about getting that stuff out of them and using theatre as a medium for change rather than just entertainment.

"It is getting their stories and forging them into something that can make other inmates think about repercussions of their crimes.

"A lot of them do not think that a single act can be like a stone in water, with a whole ripple effect through other lives.

"It is about breaking the cycle of reoffending by building on their self-esteem and communication skills. It is a matter of motivating them."

fiona.mckay@ eveningtimes.co.uk