'We know what we are, not what we may be / Somos lo que somos, pero no sabemos lo que podemos ser.' William Shakespeare
As part of the PREMIER SIMPOSIO
INTERNATIONAL TEATRO Y PRISON
co-operatively produced by CoArtRe and AufBruch
LSW was honoured to be able to run a workshop
involving men from the Ex-Penitenciaría Prison
alongside international guests from Chile, Germany, England,
Bolivia, Argentina, Poland, Mexico, France and Sweden
The talented photographer,
made a photographic and video record of this uplifting event
In some instances Leopoldo's pictures of the men
are here interspersed with his production photographs
from SANGRE, CHUCHILLO Y VELORIO (Blood, Knife and Wake),
a testimonial theatre presentation devised in a fashion similar to the
processes used by Shakespeare's Company by the men themselves
alongside CoArtRe's zealous actor/manager and progenitor,
Each element of the PREMIER SIMPOSIO INTERNATIONAL TEATRO Y PRISON was, in and of itself, a great privilege.
In this workshop the language 'Shakespeare', foreign to
even many English speakers,
proves yet again what an inspirational force in cross-cultural engagement it can be.
'We forgot we were in prison' one inmate proudly proclaimed afterwards. In Truth: 'WE ALL DID'
The 'freedom in play' exhibited by the Ex-Penitenciaría
prisoners proved as refreshing as it was instructional.
A brief segment from a game 'Bunny' (here 'Conejito' after the rabbits found in this prison itself)
- where participants are invited to share in a collective risk of 'foolery' -
(an element made famous for LSW by Sir Jonathan Miller at Her Majesty's Prison Coldingley) - can be seen here.
Another prisoner told me at the workout's conclusion that he'd actually been astonished to see offenders
laughing 'with' rather than 'at' others. 'That is rare here', he insisted.
A global sense of 'play' throughout was actively
harnessed via the humane joy of Shakespeare.
William was very much our 'common' denominator; a shared link to worlds both inside and out,
all of which the Bard himself knew intimately. The men delighted in their ownership of
the 'language of sound'. Their excitement proved electric.
A sense of group/ensemble work is always critical in
theatrical undertakings and especially vital in prisons where mental
and physical isolation can often overwhelm. Shakespeare, of course, ALWAYS celebrates an awareness of 'community'.
The Ex-Penitenciaría participants gloried in the immediate cohesion celebrated in LSW's Thai Three-Tonal exercise
such as can be seen in a brief video segment here.
The brilliant Chilean playwright/director, Eduardo Pavez Goye,
wove 'magico', translating every 'Workout' element with insight and modesty.
One could but look up in grateful amazement.
The native affection of these extraordinary Chileans required no translation, however. It was instantly understood by all.
The warmth of the Chilean spirit radiates in
spite of generations of oppression.
These men succeeded in making real for us as much as for
themselves Shakespeare's dictum:
'Make not your thoughts your prisons. / No hagas de tus pensamientos tus prisiones'
One young prisoner defined 'confidence' for himself in a
few seconds by learning (after initially saying that 'he couldn't) a lengthy
line of Lysander.
Never having heard of A Midsummer Night's Dream before he excels in an extended Peter Brook exercise kindly presented to LSW by the legendary actress Gemma Jones.
A sliver of the Bard's text is first quoted for him in English (a language he does not understand) and then via Eduardo's automatic Spanish translation.
After exactly reciting the translation for surety he performs the Shakespeare as translated with the passionate zeal of a true professional.
His scene partners (a professional Chilean actress and a young ex-offender who was himself released from Ex-Penitenciaría only the week previous) stand amazed.
The collective throng including Dr. Bruce Wall (leading this session) are thrilled. A live clip of this brief segment can be seen here.
(Please know: This was NOT rehearsed.)
For THIS and ALL we proffer great, GREAT thanks;
Mucho, MUCHO gracias -
and dedicate this workshop to the memory of the 83 men
who sadly perished in the tragic fire at San Miguel Prison, 8.12.2010
'Short time seems long in sorrow's sharp sustaining. / El eiempo breve parece largo en el lamento agudo y sostenido.' William Shakespeare