Doubting Thomas is ostensibly about Glasgow's criminal underworld, but it's also about the consequences of childhood trauma and neglect, and it's about rehabilitation. Written and performed by Thomas McCrudden with support from the cast, it is the true story of his violent past, detailing his time both in and out of prison.
As well as reenacting scenes from his life, McCrudden explores the roots of his offending, investigating how and why someone might become criminally dispossessed. He says: 'When I was growing up I wasn’t shown love, and that created not just a man without a conscience or empathy. It created a monster.' He also talks about how he was always wearing a mask, and it was only when he found the courage to remove it that he was able to change.
McCrudden's stories of life in prison include descriptions of desperate young men unable to read or write, and several bloody suicide attempts. In Doubting Thomas, prison is not a place where people are empowered to turn their lives around; it is a place of violence and fear, full of young men let down by mainstream education who have found the only way they can prove themselves is through crime.
Research by the University of Strathclyde's Interventions for Vulnerable Youth service has explored the links between childhood trauma and offending. Consultant Clinical and Forensic Psychologist Dr Lorraine Johnston says: 'We see some children dismissed as attention seeking or manipulative. But 75-85 per cent of them have significant histories of trauma. Understanding their behaviour as a response to that can be the key.'
The Grassmarket Project was founded in 1990 by Artistic Director Jeremy Weller, who focuses on putting real life stories on stage. There is often only one professional actor in the cast, with the rest of the parts played by the people who actually experienced them. The act of creating and performing the play is a kind of catharsis, a way to confront one's demons and potentially move on. Doubting Thomas is performance as rehab. (HB)
Doubting Thomas is on at Summerhall (venue 26) at 19:20 until 28 August: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/doubting-thomas
'Mental Health and Prisons': http://www.who.int/mental_health/policy/mh_in_prison.pdf
'Prison is not working – it’s time for a rehabilitation revolution': http://www.halsburyslawexchange.co.uk/prison-is-not-working-its-time-for-a-rehabilitation-revolution/
'Domestic violence a trigger for three quarters of violent young offenders': http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/homenews/14329830.Domestic_violence_a_trigger_for_three_quarters_of_violent_young_offenders/
'Understanding the Cycle, Childhood Maltreatment and Future Crime': https://www.princeton.edu/~jcurrie/publications/Understanding%20the%20CycleChildhood.pdf
Positive Prison, Positive Futures: http://www.positiveprison.org
Prison Reform Trust: http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk
The Howard League for Penal Reform: http://howardleague.org