The Big House was set up in 2013 by Maggie Norris, who has worked with ex-offenders and young people at risk of crime for over 5 years. Her work revealed that there was minimal support in the services provided for young people who are leaving the care system, with the focus on material support at the expense of fundamental needs. An intense period of research and development followed, which showed that care leavers are over-represented in unemployment, homelessness, teenage parenthood and in the prison population. She found they frequently lack formal qualifications and are prone to mental health problems. The Big House was set up to enable young care leavers to take responsibility for themselves within a supportive and creative environment structured to support their development in the complex transition from looked-after child to independent member of the community.
From 2008 to 2012 Maggie was Artistic Director of Only Connect, a creative arts company working in prisons, schools and their performance space in Kings Cross.
“It’s so raw and raging that its quiet sense of lives wasted and lost is all the more moving. You can smell the fear.”
(Lyn Gardner on Maggie’s previous work with ex-offenders in HIS TEETH)
Maggie built an infrastructure for their theatre work and commissioned, developed and directed eight plays including productions inside Wormwood Scrubs and Pentonville. She collaborated with various writers including David Watson, Inua Ellams, Ben Musgrave, Bola Agbaje, Andy Day, Paula B Stanic.
“The six young men who act with such power and pathos in this shocking play about knife-murder make genuine theatrical history”
(Nicholas de Jongh, Evening Standard, on Maggie Norris’s work with ex-offenders in ANY WHICH WAY)