What if Tesco ran the UK's privatised prison service?







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At His Majesty's Pleasure

Theatre design for the Old Vic's Tunnels (in collaboration with House of Jonn) 

At His Majesty's Pleasure is a project that began in 2011 as a collaboration between House of Jonn and Tom Greenall. Concerned with the future of the prison service, the project serves as a cautionary tale that forces us to question the 'value-for-money' that privatisation provides and whether, in fact, crime does pay. 

The project was commissioned as part of 'Civil Unrest' - an immersive theatre experience by director Spike Laurie that included a specially commissioned play by Ben Ellis, an exhibition of photojournalism by artists including Marc Vallee and Brian David Stevens, talk and seminars from left-wing activists and a temporary restaurant by Mark Jankel

The project was realised through props, artefacts, furniture and tableware, as well as set design for Ben Ellis' play and an exhibition at the Hospital Club, London. 

The following is an extract from the project narrative:

In 1992, Britain became the first country in Europe to hold inmates in privately operated prisons. By 2011, we were a market leader. One in ten UK prisoners was held in privately-operated facilities � a proportion higher even than in the United States. Today, with King Charles on the throne, the process of outsourcing is complete. And who could argue: detention is big business. The state is rewarded with �value-for-money�, and the commercial partner with access to a truly captive market. For the private jailer, every misdemeanour helps the profit margin. But while corporations push for enlarged prison populations and more severe sentences, how comfortable are we really with this business of punishment?

© Thomas Greenall