“Sowing the Future” documentary

Sowing the Future in our YouTube Channel.

We are proud to announce the release of another documentary about our work, made in 2015. It tells the story of two gardening workshops run in juvenile detention centres in Santiago: the Chilean Juvenile Service centres in San Bernardo and Calera de Tango. The documentary is a Colectivo Sustento production: directed and edited by Bárbara Fuenzalida, and filmed by Bárbara, Carolina Vera and Richard Maldonado.

These workshops were a direct result of the 2014 “Modecate” Tour. The boys in the San Bernardo centre asked us to return with a theatre workshop, but this proved difficult, so we decided to return with four months of gardening workshops. Later, we added the Calera de Tango centre to this project, where the objective was to help establish their community garden. The workshops were directed by Gabriel Jiménez, ex Fénix e Ilusiones, working with Colectivo Sustento, and our long-time volunteer and school gardens teacher Mo Stenger. As always, working as a double, we combined technical experience with the “voice of experience”. The gardening was a pretext to start a conversation with the young men and boys in the two centres, and to provoke reflection about their life choices, as well as introduce them to the beauty and practicalities of growing your own food.

This documentary was made possible by a crowdfunding campaign on the Pozible platform, with donations received from 40 friends, colleagues and family in Australia, England, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. Thanks to you all!

“Lysistrata” in 31st Entepola festival

After a break of three years, Fénix e Ilusiones and Colectivo Sustento return to the massive Entepola stage, the Pudahuel amphitheatre, with an audience of nearly 2,000 people. On the 26th January 2017, we performed “Lysistrata”, our group-devised satire about gender violence, to the Pudahuel audience as part of the programme of the 31st International Community Theatre Festival-Entepola. This presentation ended 14 months of performances, for a variety of audiences in: juvenile detention centres, community programmes for young offenders, the San Miguel women’s prison, a special performance for Latin American theatre workers at Entepola 2016, and at the “Arte Libre (Free Art)” festival organised by Gendarmería Chile in the central Santiago square, la Plaza de la Constitución, with the famous Moneda Presidential Palace as backdrop.

In the audience were many family members, colleagues and ex-Fénix e Ilusiones who had performed on that very same stage. It was the eighth time we have performed at Entepola, a festival that receives us with open arms, and ethically presents us simply as a theatre company from Chile, without mentioning the prison. It is only after the show, after the applause has died down, that the audience is told the group is from the Colina 1 prison. Our theatre is received for its theatrical strength, without sensationalism nor exoticism. Not all members of Fénix e Ilusiones were given permission to perform at Entepola, but from the stage we remembered them and sent them a huge round of applause.

Thank you to everyone who made possible this new achievement in our story.

“Beyond theatre”: Theatre’s social role

Colectivo Sustento, in collaboration with the Spanish Cultural Centre and Teatro Perro Muerto, coordinate the first event of “Beyond theatre: The social of theatre”, as part of the commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. There has been much said about Chilean theatre workers’ distancing from a social role since the end of the dictatorship. Nevertheless, many groups have continued to work in communities around the country, supporting their work through economic juggling and self-generated finance.

The debate brings together 3 experiences in Santiago and an audience of community theatre workers and participants to debate about the social role of theatre, theatre beyond theatre. We talk about our work with “Fénix e Ilusiones” directed towards young offenders.

“Beyond theatre” is also a way of narrating our work in images and words, an idea in progress with the Teatro Perro Muerto photographers: Paul Osses / Sebastián Squella.

Speakers: CODEINFA-Silencio Colectivo; Acción y Arte; Colectivo Sustento-Fénix e Ilusiones.

Our thanks to: Sename Metropolitano, Corporación Social Asociación Cristiana de Jóvenes ACJ.

“Lysistrata Tour: No to gender violence”

Between March and July 2016, our group-devised play about gender violence “Lysistrata” (premiered at the end of 2015) went on tour to juvenile justice programs. In March and April we ran “Theatre and Reflection Days” in the 4 houses of SENAME’s San Bernardo Juvenile Detention Centre, this time accompanied by “Hijos del Rigor” (Sons of Severity) the youth theatre group we were directing in the centre’s House 3. Interestingly, the boys had also chosen the theme of violence (in the family) for their short physical piece, performed to a background of techno music chosen by them.

Hijos del Rigor during the Lysistrata Tour

Although there were many new members in Fénix e Ilusiones who had not participated in the “Modecate” Tour in 2014, the impact of the Theatre and Reflection Days was the same. The men who had been on the previous tour passed on the meaning of this work to the new men, who enthusiastically rose to the task, provoking reflection and saying very clearly to the young people “don’t come here (to prison)”, nothing is gained, much is lost. As one of the Fénix e Ilusiones men said: “I want to show them that the prison that’s ahead of them is hard, for those who aren’t prepared. And the idea is that they don’t prepare for that…”

Performing in the San Bernardo centre

We continued with the format we had devised in 2014: theatre performance (of both plays in the San Bernardo centre), followed by theatre games and ending with an intimate forum with the boys and house staff. Throughout the 5 hours we spent with each group, through the laughter and play, the adult prisoners were able to build a rapport with the young people so that when it came time for the forum, bonds had already been formed and a real dialogue was possible.

In July we took the Theatre and Reflection Day to a YMCA youth program in Estación Central, where young offenders were completing sanctions in the community rather than being locked up. Young people from various YMCA programs came together for the day. The dialogue was different, somehow more open, the kids were living day to day the difficulties that would mark their decisions and future lives. We hope that through the “voice of experience” and the pretext of theatre, we had perhaps influenced these decisions.

Performance at the YMCA youth program

We thank Javier Aguirre from the Chilean Youth Service SENAME yet again for supporting the coordination of this tour.

“Sharing the Collective” documentary

Sharing the Collective in our YouTube Channel.

We are proud to announce the release of our first longish documentary, a window into Colectivo Sustento. It tells the story of two 2015 collaborations: a theatre exchange in the Colina 1 prison between Fénix & Ilusiones and Mary O’Neill and Nikki Mailer, community theatre workers from Manchester; and the building of a natural water filter in our community garden with the Women’s Bio-construction Collective (María Pinto, Chile). The documentary is a Colectivo Sustento production: directed and edited by Carolina Vera (with Rocío Huenchullán), and filmed by Carolina and Bárbara Fuenzalida.

Collaboration and reciprocity are at the heart of our work, they are key elements for us, both philosophically and ethically and support our sustainability. Whether it is in the prison theatre experience or our community garden, we seek out and develop long-term two-way relationships with like-minded organisations and individuals who also are working in resistance to the neo-liberal, competitive and individualistic system that separates us and diminishes the importance of collective endeavour.

This documentary was made possible by an injection of funds from Mary and Nikki, for which we will always be very grateful.

“Seeding autonomy” for the Sustento garden

SEEDING AUTONOMY crowdfunding… Pledges are closed, now we are receiving direct donations.

WHY WE NEED THE FUNDS: After 3 years, our self-generated strategies – bimonthly community market days (Feria Sustentina), sales of monthly baskets of country to city organic products, as well as seasonal products from our garden (Fair Produce/Víveres Justos) – have created a network of supporters who wish to eat organic and also support an autonomous alternative. We now need extra financial support to develop the process further, to generate more income, and to expand the educational and community possibilities of the garden. This development is not possible at our present level of income.

More / Más…

“Modecate” tour: creating social awareness

From June to August 2014, Colectivo Sustento with Fénix & Ilusiones went on tour, and ran 7 theatre and reflection days in 3 juvenile prisons in Santiago. Each day we performed “Modecate“, ran theatre games and ended with an open forum-debate with the young people. Emotive, provocative, deeply reflective and FUN, these 7 days filled us with hope for the future of our work with young people.

“Juvenile prisons should not exist” was the feeling that was reinforced by our experience of seeing young people locked up, their energy curtailed, hearing their stories and understanding their experiences. Most of the men in Fénix & Ilusiones have been in the same situation, so their words rang true with the young people. And their message was clear: “You decide what you want to do with your life, but if you continue down this road, this is what will happen”. The cold facts of prison life in Chile are real and disturbing. We are disturbed by the “school to prison pipeline”… through theatre, and the voice of experience, we can do something to stop it.More / Más…

The flock of women

Ya está Bueno Grabación 19 Nov 2007 01In 2007, the radioplay “Ya está bueno” (It’s enough – voices of women and men against gender violence) was produced with three communities in Santiago-Chile. This program “The flock of women” was written and dramatised by women from the Women’s Refuge IELCH in Santiago’s El Bosque area. The script came from testimonials of women who have suffered violence, combined with hard facts about femicide in Chile and a critical, sarcastic, often acerbic response to the issue. It was a visceral process, direct from the heart and guts of the matter.


Produced by Teatro Pasmi, with financial support from the Chilean Interior Ministry. Uploaded for International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 2013.

© Creative Commons. Free reproduction with acknowledgement of original source.

Modecate on tour

Workshop with young people after Modecate, Sept 2013

Modecate has been touring Santiago since its premiere in January 2013. It is the production that spearheads our work with young people. The play is both vehicle and pretext for reflection; born from a long process of discussion and improvisation with Fénix & Ilusiones about the nature of human relations in a dehumanised and controlled society.

During 2013, we performed twice directly for young people in juvenile justice settings, firstly in Recoleta for a group from a program in Maipú, and later in the National Minor’s Service juvenile facility in Til Til. Two opportunities to interact with these young people

On 5th September we performed in the Recoleta Cultural Centre to young people and workers of “Jóven en Red Maipú”, a Special Intervention Program of the Carlos Casanueva Corporation on the city’s periphery. After the performance of “Modecate”, we all took part in a theatre games workshop run by Fénix & Ilusiones, followed by an informal discussion. The interaction was emotive and powerful. More / Más…