Bad Girls Jailhouse
A Musical Set In A Women’s Prison
It started in 1993, when Angus Kohm was still a student at the University of Manitoba. He was completing a major in Film Studies, and looking for an offbeat topic for one of his important essays. He found it one night while browsing through a video store, and went on to write a paper titled Women Behind Bars: a semiotic study of a film genre. It was a bit of a rush job (considering that he had started the essay only a day before it was due), but he wound up getting a decent mark and - more importantly - discovering the subject matter of his first musical (although he didn't know it yet).
 
Kohm had always been fascinated by the idea of writing a musical. He had been in and out of basement bands, writing songs, since he was in high school. He had started writing and producing plays while studying theatre at university. Kohm found it was becoming increasingly difficult to dedicate enough time to each of these pursuits separately, and it seemed like a natural solution to combine them. After a very successful production of his latest play, The Corporate Whores, at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival (July 1993), Kohm was looking for an idea that could top it. He had just parted ways with his most recent band-mates, so the idea of doing a musical kept returning to his mind. But he didn't want to do an "ordinary" musical. He wanted to do something completely unexpected; a musical that didn't seem like it should be musical. Suddenly, he thought of that essay he had written in the spring. The world's first women's prison musical was born.
 
Bad Girls Jailhouse made is debut at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival in July of 1994, where is was a huge success with audiences and critics.  It was, at that point, the best received play of Kohm’s career, and many people encouraged Kohm to do more with it.  So...
 
In 1996, Kohm Added twenty minutes of new material (including four new songs) and returned to the Winnipeg Fringe Festival with Bad Girls Jailhouse: UNCUT. In addition to Winnipeg, this production also played in Toronto and Saskatoon.  Once again, the show was a success, and attendance almost doubled in Winnipeg.
 
Kohm was approached by a couple of film producers who were interested in turning the play into a movie, but alas, no agreement was every reached.  
 
Then in 2000, The Back Hole Theatre at the University of Manitoba produced Bad Girls Jailhouse as part of their season.  This was particularly thrilling for Kohm, as the Black Hole Theatre was where he had started writing and directing plays a decade earlier.  In honour of the occasion, Kohm added some new material and split the play into two acts.  It was now officially full length.  
 
When the Winnipeg Fringe Festival celebrated their twentieth anniversary in 2007, Winnipeg Free Press Theatre Critic Kevin Prokosh named Bad Girls Jailhouse as one of his top ten favourite fringe plays of all time.  This was high praise, considering that Prokosh has seen hundreds of plays over the years.  
 
All in all, not too bad for a crazy idea hatched because of a rushed, and long forgotten, essay written for film class!