THEATRE INSIDE THE WALLS OF A JAIL CHANGES LIVES

 

 

 

In 1988 a young artist, Armando Punzo, proposes to the governor of the jail of Volterra, an ancient town in Tuscany, to form a theatrical company in the jail, which was an old medieval fortress.

 

 

 

It was a revolutionary and courageous experience because it broke with a prejudice and the governor, as courageous as the artist, accepted the proposal.

 

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Since 1998, Laura Cleri, actress for the company Fondazione Teatro Due in Parma, has worked as Punzo’s assistant director and has created with him the plays put on stage behind the walls of the fortress every year in July. This experience has become a real festival, which doesn’t  involve only the convicts, but the whole town where more and more tourists are attracted. The Company of the Fortress is now a real theatrical company and today critics consider it one of the best in Italy.

 

Laura has accepted to meet the students of the classes taking part in  the Comenius Project to talk about this extraordinary experience she’s living with Stefano Vaia, who has showed his photos and videos that tell the artistic journey of the Company of the Fortress.

 

“Meeting authors like Pasolini or Brecht, leafing through art books for the convicts has meant a transformation, because Punzo’s experience doesn’t want to be a therapy, but it’s a route to give a meaning to the years in a prison, it’s a quest for freedom “ – Laura says – “The culture has the power of contaminating and transforming the life of those who approach it”. Punzo’s project has demonstrated that it’s possible to open again the doors of society for those bound to be social outcast because of their errors.

 

 

 

Aniello Arena, one of the convicts, is now a movie actor, protagonist of Matteo Garrone’s  “Reality”, awarded in Cannes. Alì, from Morocco, has written a monologue about his experience and now, after touring Europe with his play, lives in Finland with his wife and goes on with theatre. Jamel, from Tunisia, after serving his sentence, was called by another theatrical company thanks to his talent, but had to go back to his country due to bureaucracy.

 

 

 

 

 

Punzo’s revolutionary experience has inspired other projects in other Italian and foreign prisons, and it was just from a theatre workshop in Rebibbia prison that the idea of the Taviani’s movie “Caesar Must Die” was born.