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