(Cape Town) – Theatre programme works with offenders to prepare them for life after prison.
“People don’t want to work with perpetrators … Nobody wants to go there,” said Jacquline Hoorn, a social worker at NICRO. She was speaking at the premiere of Making a Criminal Part 2 at the Artscape Theatre on Thursday evening.
NICRO, a non-profit organisation, runs the “Help I’m Free” outreach programme at correctional service facilities around Cape Town. The programme, which works with current prisoners and released offenders, aims to help them with integration into society through using the arts.
For a second year the programme worked with Pollsmoor Correctional Services from March to September to create a theatre production with offenders, culminating in a performance run at the Artscape Arena Theatre.
The first piece, directed by Yasin Gyltepe, is about two rival gangs and a love affair across gang loyalties. Gyltepe says using the techniques of theatre is “where we start working with their minds”. “We ask them to do tough things like revisit certain experiences. [I would say to the prisoners] ‘I want you to tell me why you did it but I don’t want to hear you say it, I want to see it in your body’”, he explains. “For me, it’s night and day from who we met [the inmates] in February until now.”
The second half, directed by Chiminae Ball, focuses on the challenges offenders face after prison and is based on their personal experiences – the difficulties in getting a job, of socialising with their family and friends, and resisting the temptation to go back to violence and crime.
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