Prison Songs becomes stage musical

SBS documentary has been staged as a musical at the Darwin Festival, featuring Ernie Dingo.


You could probably count on one hand the number of television shows that have gone on to become stage productions –Bananas in Pyjamas, Hi-5, Prisoner– but a documentary?

SBS documentary Prison Songs, which aired in January, has been playing as a stage musical this weekend at Darwin Festival.

The doco, which included song by Casey Bennetto and Shellie Morris, was filmed with real inmates at
Darwin’s Berrimah prison by filmmaker Kelrick Martin. With rave reviews and industry awards, it has since become a live event featuring Morris, Ernie Dingo and Kamahi Djordon King.

Bringing to life the songs including ‘Berrimah Hilton,’ ‘I’m Talking about Alcohol’ and ‘What you Learn from Your Mum and Dad’, it also features footage shot inside Berrimah, highlighting high rates of indigenous incarceration.

Attending rehearsals, actor Jack Thompson said the work would become a ‘classic piece of Australian theatre’.

Just 5 performances are staged at Darwin Festival, with the audience giving a standing ovation at Friday’s opening night.

Prison Songs has won awards at the Rockie Awards in Banff, Australian Director’s Guild Awards and the WA Screen Awards.


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