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Innovative theatre group highlights range of issues arising in the Family Court

Behind Closed Doors Theatre present plays for professionals and general public

There is a rapidly increasing interest in the work of the Family Court and the social issues with which it deals. However, there are also very heavy restrictions about what can be reported from real family law cases. Revealing how the State functions in areas of social policy is extremely difficult, even for skilled journalists. Further, when there have been attempts to dramatise family law issues the result frequently lacks authenticity and, as a result, fails to have impact.

Therefore, His Honour Judge Wildblood QC, the Designated Family Judge for the area around Bristol and a family lawyer of 38 years standing, has joined forces with Keran Brady, Academic Mentor and Performing Artist, and, Abby Mahony, a law tutor, both of St Brendan's College in Bristol, to create the theatre group Behind Closed Doors. We put on interactive performances of plays about issues that arise within family and social care law. The plays are based on stories about the abuse of children, parental separation, state intervention in family life and other aspects of family and social care law.

During the performance the action on stage is stopped from time to time and a facilitator encourages the audience to ask questions of the actors; the actors reply in role with very heavily researched back stories. The actors may also ask members of the audience for advice (e.g. the woman who has been hit by her partner in a domestic violence scene may ask: 'What do you think I should do now? Should I leave him?'). At times the scripts are very graphically worded and depict scenes that some may find extremely distressing. The plays are not suitable for children under the age of 16 without express and fully informed parental consent.

We think the plays are an extremely effective way of increasing awareness of the full range of issues that arise in the Family Court. We also think that they provide an invaluable method of training for professionals who are involved in the family justice system.

Our audiences are made up of lawyers, judges, social workers, Cafcass officers, students, the media, other professionals and members of the general public.

We would like to be able to use this style of theatre more widely and would like to take it into the field of medicine as well – we have a sketch about euthanasia, for example. We also think that the scenes that we show would make excellent and educative short films.

If you would be interested in hosting a performance, seeing a play or reading part of a script, please contact Stephen Wildblood on .

We are very grateful to our sponsors, Family Law Week, who have sponsored our performance at the National Resolution Conference and at the Devon Resolution Conference.

Behind Closed Doors Theatre