Unlocking: Theatre in Prison

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Unlocking: Kleczkowska Prison

From 2014 the artists of Fundacja Jubilo are leading Unlocking, a theatrical project in the premises of the Penitentiary Prison No 1 in Wrocław. Project is financed by the Wrocław City Council and realised with support of the Grotowski Institute.

In November 2014 the Jubilo team offered the prison a pilot cycle of theatre workshops and based on their very positive results and growing interest, decided to run a long-term project of Unlocking.

From February to May 2015 Jubilo led regular workshop meetings for two groups of inmates: men and women. At the initial stage of the project Jubilo artists focused on building relations with each of the workshop participants, aiming to overcome the emotions of shame, fear or closure. Afterwards the team begun developing the vocabulary of theatrical tools and actor’s training as a basis for later work and the starting point for creating a performance.

The initial themes of work were the words „I am” and „I want”. The inmates were asked to express their personal reflections in the form of poems and texts and later to develop physical etudes inspired by those themes. In parallel the artists of Jubilo continued to develop the physical and musical work with the group, opening the individual potential of each of the participants.

On 29th and 30th April 2015 at the prison the participants presented work demonstrations open to audience from outside the prison as well as fellow inmates. These demonstrations were a moment of summary of the first block of workshops and an opportunity to share with the audience the first discoveries, inspired and drawn from the work with body and voice, as well as from the meetings with invited guests: a capoeira artist and a flamenco dancer.

The final step of work in 2015 was the presentation of a theatre performance entitled Reflection, merging experiences, thoughts and emotions gathered during the workshop process. The script of the performance was written together with the participants and the leaders during the whole duration of the project, linking chosen written and musical materials, individual inspirations and ideas. The performance premiere took place on the 24th of November inside the Penitentiary Prison.

From 2016 the artists continue the work with a group of 9 male inmates and the created performance is being developed and presented within the premises of the prison, as well as outside.

In 2017 the performance of Reflection won the 4th National Competition of Prison Theatre Art and received Grand Prix of the 26th National and 14th International Review of Prison Art in Sztum. In June and August 2017 the performance was presented at the Grotowski Institute in Wrocław.

Project leaders: Agnieszka Bresler, Simona Sala, Diego Pileggi
Artistic collaborators: Joshua Doerksen, Jakub Gontarski, Katarzyna Małecka, Samuel Alty

Trailer of the performance:

Short documentary film about Unlocking:

Theatre workshops
Reflection - Performance premiere
Reflection at the Polish Theatre in Poznan