A SCOTTISH playwright has told of how he hopes his new work can help to make the theatre more accessible for working-class people.

Mikael Philippos is the creative director behind Under the Rug Theatre and his new play Not Our Crime, Still Our Sentence, has had a successful run at this year’s Fringe.

It focuses on a mother four years into her husband’s sixteen-year prison sentence as she tries to raise two young children.

Philippos grew up in Garthamlock in the east end of Glasgow and his latest play has a personal touch as he explains his own father spent sixteen years as a prisoner.

He admits the writing process opened up conversations his family previously hadn’t had before.

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“We do try dramatize it in such a way that it’s not too close to home but my dad was in prison for 16 years and my mum raised me and my sister.

“It’s not just the prisoner that is punished. It’s the family as well and that’s really what the play is about”, he told The National.

He added: “We always had a very open dialogue in our family as to why our life changed the way it did and why our dad was in prison, especially as we got older.

“But if anything I think writing this brought out conversations we never would have thought to have if I wasn’t writing this piece.”

Philippos’s company was born out of a desire to have more working-class stories told on stage.

He wants to focus on subjects that have at times been considered too “taboo” for theatre and he hopes this can help raise awareness of the role working-class people play in theatrical productions.

The National: Mikael Philippos with his mum and sister SkyeMikael Philippos with his mum and sister Skye (Image: Mikael Philippos)

“I wanted a company that lifted the rug up as it were and told stories that people don’t often talk about or aren’t interested in.

“I spent years visiting prison or food banks and just went through a lot of things people are ignorant to or maybe aren’t covered in the theatre.

“After I finished my masters, I got a kick up the butt to say why am I waiting for someone to start a company like this, why don’t I just start it myself.”

In spite of its serious subject matter, the play is still described as a comedy and is as much about finding joy in difficult situations as it is anything else.

Overall, the play has been a success at this year’s Fringe and is still running until August 17.

Philippos explained: “It’s been amazing, a bit stressful, but an experience we needed. I’ve been so lucky with all the cast and crew and it’s been great getting to see the different reactions.

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“The audience feedback has been amazing. We even had a night taxi driver reach out with a poem about seeing families waiting outside a prison.

“It just summarised the whole reason we’re doing it and it just made me feel like it was worth it.
“If theatre isn’t activism then what is it? That was always it’s ethos. It was always to say something.”

Not Our Crime, Still Our Sentence is playing at the Gilded Balloon until August 17 and tickets are still available to buy HERE.