Former criminal and now Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) actor Michael Balogun has visited Maghaberry Prison to talk to prisoners about his life experiences.
London-born Michael served nine years in prison where he turned to acting and gained a place at the famous drama school which counts Sir Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hiddleston and Eddie Redmayne among its graduates. After gaining his degree he was cast in Macbeth at the National Theatre in London, alongside Rory Kinnear, Anne-Marie Duff and Belfast actor, Patrick O’Kane.
David Kennedy, Governor of Maghaberry Prison, said: “Michael has a very powerful story to tell and is an example of how people can change their lives if they are determined to do so.
“He is a huge inspiration and we are delighted that he has taken time to support prisoners. He can relate to their experiences. Ultimately it is our role to support people to change; this has been a good step towards that.”
As part of Lyric Theatre’s creative learning scheme, Michael has been visiting Northern Ireland and taking part in workshops and discussions with student actors as well as prisoners at Maghaberry and in Hydebank Wood College.
Philip Crawford, Head of Creative Learning at the Lyric said: “The Creative Learning department at the Lyric has been working with the Department of Justice for a number of years now, and as part of the community outreach programme prisoners in Maghaberry have helped build the set for a recent production.
“Students from Hydebank Wood have also engaged in Creative Writing workshops while others have played an integral part in the theatre’s touring production of the play, Blackout by Davey Anderson.
“So when Michael heard about this innovative work he was very keen to get involved and tell his story to others who’ve been through a similar experience.”
Philip added: “There is clear evidence to suggest that people in custody who get involved with the Arts are much less likely to re-offend. With his charisma and credibility, Michael is certain to inspire others with his remarkable story.”
Michael Balogun said: “Acting, drama and theatre have literally changed my life. When I discovered what the Lyric were doing in Northern Ireland with young offenders and others I was delighted to get involved.”
Check out the short video about Michael Balogun’s visit to Maghaberry at Department of Justice NI Youtube Channel
Notes to editors:
1. Further information can be found on the BBC World Service Podcast: Michael Balogun: BBC Programmes
2. All media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office on 028 9052 6444. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via number 028 9037 8110 and your call will be returned.
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