Aerial view ofsandstone prison at Port Arthur

Exploring punishment

Visitors to the iconic Port Arthur Historic Site will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in a brand new experience in the haunting and eerie Separate Prison.

Brought to life by the Turin Production Partnership, A Punishing Experiment is a limited run of performances exploring the idea of isolation and silence as punishment and reform.

A short play that dances in the shadows between reality and the idea of separation and silence as reform

Opening in 1849, the Separate Prison was a new institution designed to deal with the worst class of criminal at Port Arthur. The aim was to subdue the prisoners by imposing the strictest of treatment and rules. The most important rule being silence. No footsteps were to be heard – guards and prisoners had to wear felt overshoes. Prisoners were not allowed to talk or would suffer further isolating punishment in the Dumb Cell. Prisoners’ names were also no longer valid and they were only known as a number.

As today’s audiences enter the Separate Prison, they are transported back to 1854.

They will experience how the experiment of a separate and isolated prison functioned through the eyes of different characters: Irish, the convict narrator; the Warden; the Overseer; Denny the Defiant; the Doctor; the Constable; and the other prisoners.

A Punishing Experiment will run Friday and Saturday evenings from 6pm to 7.30pm from 13 March through to 13 April, with extra performances on Easter Sunday and Monday. Spaces are limited and bookings can be made online or by ringing 1800 659 101.