This film is part of Free

Trapped Rhythms

Powerful music video that demands respect for difference.

Music video 2016 4 mins



Drawing on archive material and research, the Access All Areas Theatre Company restages aspects of life at St Lawrence's Hospital, a long-stay facility for patients with learning disabilities in Surrey. The company hijacks the empowering aesthetics of the rap video form to take aim at the historical treatment of people with learning disabilities and autism. Tearing down institutional walls with humour and urgency, the performers remind us that everyone has their own rhythm.

St Lawrence’s was operational from 1870 and people were often interned there having been detained under the 1913 Mental Deficiency Act. Conditions were harsh: inmates were often described as ‘idiots’ or ‘imbeciles’ and made to scrub the floor with toothbrushes as a punishment. The act was repealed by the Mental Health Act 1959 but St Lawrence’s remained open until 1994.