1.1. Partnership between professionals and educators

When the theatrical workshop in a prison takes place in a partnership perspective (as in the case of Pesaro, Italy, where the Aenigma University Theatre has been operating since 2002) a synergy is established between professional theatre workers and the entire educational team that operates in the penitentiary context (educators and other socio-psycho-pedagogical figures of prison treatment). The project is continuously observed, evaluated and oriented in itinerary, within the scope of the competences expressed (see beginning of chapter 2.2).

For this reason, the decision to focus on partnership in this project coincides with the desire to make the best use of all the educational and training potential of a wider operating mode in time and space.

In Italy, as in prison, even in ordinary schools (for children, adolescents, young people) theatre is not a curricular subject and there is no figure of the “theatre teacher”. So we can speak in this case of “encounter with the theatre” as an encounter with an art that interacts with other forms of scenic language in an interdisciplinary way while maintaining the artistic element as a specific priority. From the point of view of the partnership, the project will have an educational and artistic value at the same time. Generally, in Italy this is made possible by a support of the penitentiary administration (unfortunately in recent years this has been reduced due to scarcity of resources) or a local authority (City, Region, Banking Foundation, ...). For this reason it would be ideal to encourage the use of performing arts in the formation of adults in prison through forms of support for continuous paths of collaboration between professionals of the Performing Arts and Educators. The continuity of the experience (if properly supported) is the main secret for its success and for the achievement of the desired educational and sociocultural objectives.

Here we are going to illustrate a concrete operational possibility of a methodological nature, all focused on theatrical training, starting from the work of two great masters of Contemporary Theatre who have done their utmost to support socially disadvantaged categories: Augusto Boal and Dario Fo.

The working group evaluated that the artistic and pedagogical modalities of the two authors/artists/pedagogues mentioned, can be considered the main references on which to base an activity like this. Two characters that have had a disruptive effect in our era (Boal passed away 11 years ago, in 2009, while Fo just 4 years ago, in 2016) creating a strong individual and collective awareness. Both have conducted their work among people from various strata of society, (Boal actively involving the “spectatorsactors” in their stage events, Fo and Rame promoting activities in social centres and creating a direct theatre that does not “deceive” the public) becoming predecessors of the concept of Community Theatre that has established itself in recent years. Another factor that unites them are the issues that they have addressed in their research: the socio-cultural discomfort of the subaltern classes, corruption as a sign of the arrogance of the holders of power, the interest in the culture of origin of the people.

The idea of combining the Brazilian pedagogical master and the Nobel Prize for Literature in educational terms also falls within what, in the same cultural horizon, can manifest itself as an important pedagogical line in communicative terms (think of the socalled “demolition of the fourth wall”) and socio-political (the promotion of a critical thinking of the viewer not identifiable as a “passive consumer” of a cultural product). Even on a practical level, in communicative and artistic terms, the Theatre-Forum of Augusto Boal manages to be an excellent preparatory tool with respect to the creation of a show, more properly the subject of a study on the scenic form in the theatre of Fo and Rame.

We will define the program of an entire theatre course/laboratory within a penitentiary institution divided into two complementary parts:

1.       The first 3 months of activity are inspired by the work of Augusto Boal, using the technique of the Theatre-Forum, with, at the end of the period, the organization of an event in the presence of a limited number of spectators;

2.       The following 5 months of workshop are inspired by the work of Dario Fo and Franca Rame to get to the preparation of a theatrical work to be presented to the public.