Point Puer Boys’ Prison is located on a peninsula next to Port Arthur prison in Tasmania. Established in 1834, it was the first of its kind for the British Empire and an experiment that aimed to rehabilitate young offenders. On opening, there were 68 boys aged from 10 – 20. The boys were given some opportunities to learn a trade, read and write. But, this was sporadic and depended on the skills and attitudes of the guards, many of whom were once prisoners at Port Arthur. Living conditions were rough and punishments were often brutal.
Point of No Return centres on a group of young convicts transported to Point Puer. The group face terrible hardship and strive to find hope for a future beyond the horrors of prison life. The leader of the group cleverly protects his gangs and fights to keep them together. A new young convict arrives and challenges the dynamics and relationships of the group. The prisoners are not the only ones struggling to survive in this harsh Tasmanian prison, the guards are also playing their own brutal game.
A lost piece of history. Fascinating - Unforgettable
A note from Alaine Beek - How Point of No Return Came About
I visited Port Arthur in 2007 and was fascinated and drawn to this unique story – not just its darker themes but also the sense of hope as many of the boys did survive and learn a trade. I wrote a very short version of this play on my return and it was workshopped with Grade Six Werribee Primary students. It was resurrected again in 2014 with a talented group of male
students in the Werribee Secondary College’s Drama Club. We further developed the play then I entered it into Playhouse Players National One Act Playwright Competition open section and it won Judges Choice for Best Written Script, People’s Choice for Best Written Script and People’s Choice for Best Performed Play.
I made another trip to Port Arthur and spent time with the Research Department who helped in providing fascinating primary source material which enriched the story. Since then it was developed further and from a rehearsed reading, was selected by the Wyndham Cultural Centre to be part of their 2016 subscription season and was performed there in April 2016 then at the
Courthouse Youth Arts in May 2016.
“If a boy at Point Puer found a middle way between the strictures of authority and the pressure of his peers and managed to learn a trade, he could come out with a better chance of making good than most assigned men. If not the system would simple grind him down.” Robert Hughes, ‘The Fatal Shore’.