Inmates get the chance to shine

2019-07-16 06:01
Inmates at Pollsmoor Prison tell their stories through an onstage production. PHOTO: Racine Edwardes

Inmates at Pollsmoor Prison tell their stories through an onstage production. PHOTO: Racine Edwardes

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Inmates and former convicts from Pollsmoor Prison will be showing their skills on stage at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in September for this year’s seventh annual Second Chance Theatre Project.

With a foundational pillar at the correctional facility being built on the idea of rehabilitation and reintegration through arts and sports programmes, the staff and offenders are looking forward to the next production which is set to take place around mid-September.

With reintegration in mind, spokesperson for the prison, Lewies Davids explains: “Apart from building confidence and better self-esteem in a person, the project goes beyond that. It gives the offender an opportunity to market his or her abilities, skills and talents to the outside world.”

He says the production is marketed to all offenders at the beginning of the year, after which rehearsals are held for all those interested, a selection process takes place and then they begin to rehearse.

Davids says that inmates are excited to be part of the production each year and new participants are recruited each time.

The production is a partnership with National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Rehabilitation of Offenders (NICRO), an organisation specialising in the reintegration of inmates and prevention of social crime, and the University of Cape Town (UCT).

Associate professor at UCT, Veronica Baxter from the UCT’s Centre for Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies has taken on the role as facilitator of the programme. Davids explains that her greatest responsibility in the production is to bring the talents of the performers to light by assisting them to tell their stories. The scripts were written by the inmates themselves.

He continues, adding that the show gives them a platform where their skills could very well be noticed by industry professionals. “When this production is staged, the partners would invite various role-players from the film and entertainment industry, producers, directors and scriptwriters. These offenders would then make an impression and can land up a possible role in the filming, theatre and arts sector.”

Bandla Makise, manager of developmental programmes at the prison, elaborated on what audiences can look forward to.

“Our theme for this year is being young. The guys who are performing are going to explore the challenges of being young and the excitement of being young, and also give you a taste of what’s going on in their lives here in Pollsmoor,” he said. A pre-staging of the production was held at the prison for the first time on Thursday 27 June. The show told the stories of inmates who had been convicted as a result of protecting their children and others for drug smuggling – stories that are not to be missed.

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