Prison Service bans queer theatre group from performing its opera about Ivor Novello’s incarceration in HMP Wormwood Scrubs

Graham Robson September 1, 2023

Homo Promos, Britain’s oldest LGBTQ+ theatre group, has been banned from taking its latest production, 1944: Home Fires into HMP Wormwood Scrubs next Tuesday, September 6.

The visit had, according to Homo Promos, the full support of staff at the prison, and has been “stamped on” by “senior leaders in the prison service”, according to Jake Booth, the Neurodiversity Support Manager at the Scrubs who was organising the visit. No reasons have been given.

The performance, which was to take place in the prison chapel, consisted of a 50-minute opera about Ivor Novello‘s incarceration in the prison, and a piano recital on Novello’s own piano there.

Peter Scott-Presland, the producer who was in the prison only yesterday with his team to finalise arrangements, said: “We are devastated. This was going to be the high point of the tour and a homage to a great gay icon. To cancel with four days’ notice without any reason given is unbelievably unprofessional and a great step back in the progress the Prison Service has been making towards equality and diversity.

“We can only apologise to all those staff and inmates who were looking forward to this show, many of whom were LGBTQ+ themselves and looked to this to give some sort of affirmation.”