Trust, belonging and the "space of freedom"... a continuous journey
Fénix & Ilusiones is the name of the theatre group that Colectivo Sustento directs in the Colina 1 men’s prison in Santiago, Chile; in fact some members of Colectivo Sustento were part of Fénix & Ilusiones, while others worked for Teatro Pasmi, the company that directed this work from 2002-2011. More than 250 prisoners have participated in this community theatre experience. Up until the end of 2014, we ran two workshops, one in the Work Sector and one in the general prison population (prisoners not in work programs), with both groups mutually supporting each other. Due to the difficulties of combining work and theatre, from 2015, we only work with men from the general prison population.
The work is group-determined; there is equal responsibility for all aspects of the creative process and activities (performances, tours, conferences, etc). The experience has developed organically over time, creating a high level of commitment and belonging. The workshop space creates a strong bond that gives us all the freedom to express through theatre our reflections and critiques about current social issues.
Continuity is the heartbeat of this work: in all these years, the creative and group process has not stopped. Despite the innate perversity and volatility of the prison system and the economic ups and downs, a commitment to continuity has enabled the possibility of working over time with the same men, sometimes for many years. One clear result of this is Colectivo Sustento itself, and therefore we are committed to this continuity, because without it, how could we even dream of provoking any impact on ourselves, our families, or anyone else in the society we are part of?
In 2005, the men began to voice their interest in working directly with young people, but it took until 2014 before we were able to begin this work, with the tour of Modecate to juvenile detention centres. This tour became the springboard for our work with young people in detention, that continues to this day with tours and workshops.
“Modecate” in ENTEPOLA 2013, photographs by: Natália Valarini / Víctor Mendoza. Featured image: Alejandro Gálvez