Guest Blog: Sharnika Power on The Book of Actions

In this blog, Sharnika Power, writer of The Book of Actions, shares their experience growing up as daughter to a criminal defence attorney and time in Rykers Island prison which led to the making of the show. 

The Book of Actions is one of two shows developed through The Brand Nouveau Initiative; Nouveau Riche’s new attachment scheme that aims to nurture and develop the next generation of theatre practitioners.

Catch it on Friday 3 & Saturday 4 May. Click here for more information.

The Book of Actions is a play which navigates some of the root causes of incarceration and both the rehabilitation and degeneration of inmates in prison.

As the daughter of a criminal defence attorney, I have always interacted with the criminal justice system, visiting courts, prisons and chambers and forming relationships with the lawyers and the defendants alike. As a result, I have undoubtedly inherited my mother’s ethos that “there are two sides to every story “.

Whilst working as a Lobbyist in New York, I spent some time in Rykers Island Prison, a prison notorious for its humanitarian controversies and the degenerative effect its systems often have on the inmates. I was struck by the parallels between the prisons in New York and in London; even though New York had previously felt like a world away, the prisons felt as though they could have been adjacent.

I was struck by the overrepresentation of ethnic minorities in both prisons, though notably more so in Rykers.

I was struck by how many prisoners had been excluded from school in their youth, were from impoverished backgrounds or had not been raised by both or either of their parents.

Above all, I was struck by how all these consistencies, in the lives of men thousands of miles apart, had led them to the same institution.

I hope this play will take a closer look at criminality from different perspectives.