Dean Stalham’s story is one with many twists and turns, now chronicled in his new play, Barred.

A Cricklewood native, Dean’s story begins growing up in Claremont Road, attending local schools and living a fairly normal life, until his life changed dramatically when fraud and handling stolen art led him to spend five and a half years in prison.

It was during this time that Dean, now 54, really began to come into his own, as rehabilitation provided to him mean he became entranced by the arts, starting him on a new path.

For him, the arts was a powerful mechanism for Dean to learn new things and start afresh after leaving prison: “The arts helped me fill my time constructively - it engaged my mind and kept my busy, and opened my mind to a whole new world.

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“I left school aged 15 with no qualifications – I left prison with an A level in Art, three awards from the National Union of Journalists and a BTEC in Radio Production.”

Since leaving prison in 2006, Dean has had a meteoric rise in the world of arts, film and television, with his script for Geronimo being picked up by Channel 4 in 2011, and his art installation being displayed at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2008, which featured a nine-page poem written across 40 reclaimed timber columns.

He has continued painting and also wrote scripts for hit TV soap Eastenders.

This garden was extra special as the garden was cultivated and design by those struggling with homelessness.

The father-of-five is now on tour with his new production, Barred, set in a prison and telling stories of his real experience behind bars.

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He says: “Barred is based on my true life experience: that art and education is the way forwards to rehabilitation and change.

“The play is acted out of an actual prison cell and the best thing is the look on audiences faces when they see the reality of being in prison.”

Dean hopes that this play, which also showing people the reality of what it is like in modern prisons, will also bring to light issues of prison reform that he is passionate about: “Society on the whole needs to show more compassion and understanding for prisoners and former prisoners – many are our most damaged individuals – born into poverty and deprivation.”

The Arts Council, who are behind the funding for Barred, are also behind a new production which Dean will be touring with next year, though this is still in development.

Barred is returning home to Cricklewood today, starting at 7pm at Cricklewood Trades Hall, 134-136 Cricklewood Lane, NW2.