Although their work with inmates had been suspended during the Covid-19 pandemic, Italian filmmakers celebrated Online Prison Theater Day and vowed to continue once restrictions were lifted, because Nick Awde find
When Italy was locked in to fight the spread of the corona virus, protests erupted in prisons across the country on March 8 and 9 when authorities stopped or restricted normal family visits. Even without crises, prisons are institutions where access is an ongoing problem, especially for social and educational activities and social theater programs.
“As theater and cultural workers, we have not had access to prison since early March, because all activities have been suspended,” said Vito Minoia, coordinator of the International Network Theater in Prison. “That is a step that is needed to protect health in the facility, but at the moment there are many difficulties as we see them from disturbances.”
Minoia is based at the University of Urbino in Marche, an Italian province that has been severely affected by coronavirus, where last year he organized, with the Italian Center of the International Theater Institute, the official celebration of World Theater Day on March 27 in a state prison near Pesaro.
‘After the coronavirus emergency in Italy ended, when we arrived at the prison we did not have cultural traditions to emulate ‘- Vito Minoia, International Network Theater in Prison
“Although this year we have to cancel Prison Theater Day, which coincides with World Theater Day, we have invited colleagues to publish on Facebook pages, websites and blogs, video shows, exercises and interviews – or only articles and photos that show experiences workshop in prison. “
Minoia’s work focuses on theater as an educational tool for people in the criminal justice system, connecting to the National Theater Coordination in Prison. “Until the crisis, we worked in Pesaro prison with two groups. The first group consists of men and women in the criminal justice system, developing work on the relationship between theater and sports with the involvement of students from Urbino studying sports, movement and health. The second group is working on an independent education program through a collective drama creation project. “
Other projects include Rassegna Nazionale Destini Incrociati, a three-day travel festival to establish dialogue between theater experiences in prisons and thousands of spectators, and for the Prison Theater Day last year, more than 100 events were held in 16 regions of Italy, involving 64 prisons and institutions the other. It was built on a collective drama project in Pesaro prison that led in 2016 to the launch of the International Prize for Theater in Prison.
Minoia said: “At this tragic moment, the long-term impact on our ability to work in prison is comparable to all other workers. Or maybe it will have a greater impact, given that professional cultural and theater works are generally among the most precarious in Italy. The government is included in the emergency decree allocation of allowances for entertainment and business workers, but we don’t know whether they will be enough to make up for losses.
“But once the coronavirus emergency in Italy ends, when we arrive at prison we don’t have cultural traditions to take that will allow us to get out of this educational emergency with support for re-socialization and awareness raising policies through arts and culture.
Minoia added: “This applies to everything in general – and not only in Italy. Could this be a good time to reconsider, through greater institutional support, how can cultural heritage improve the quality of our lives? Like theater and dance, solidarity has no national boundaries, and education and social theater with the same ethical and artistic goals are excellent models for uniting people. “