Workshop for Theater operators in Prison

FREEWAY project – FREEWAY – Free man Walking
Theatre as a tool for detainees’ integration.


The workshops will be aimed at training theatre mediators previously selected, in order to train a specific professional figure able to use theatre tools for facilitating the rehabilitation of detainees and their reintegration in the society. The provided tools are aimed to empower and assist the participants for future initiatives with inmates and other marginalized groups outside the frame of the current project. So at the end of FREEWAY Project the trained operators will be able to realize their own projects in prisons: trainings, workshops, shows.. ensuring the long-term sustainability of the project objectives.

The aim is to creating the professional profile of the theatre operator working in prison by providing him with specific and appropriate skills and competencies.
The task of the parters as former will be to provide the participants with the tools necessary for the preparation, delivery and evaluation of performance building in prison, taking into account the specific operation process and stages of construction of Theater work with prisoners, as well as the team policies in relation to co- working.

Furthermore, operators who will participate in the training program will be made aware not only of the theatrical techniques adopted by the Partners, but also of the specific condition and specific problems in the prison environment. By acquiring theoretical skills concerning the rules and laws, they will become aware of the bureaucratic background in which they will be working. The participants will get an overview of the situation, the problems and living conditions of inmates, to be aware of the social background.


FREEWAY PROJECT foresees the participation of four different realities, with different backgrounds and working methods. The specific training program for each partner will be modeled on the basis of the methodology that each reality undertakes.
So another aim of the training path is to make theater operator relate to the methodology of the directors and the company.

The common methodology traces a model to be followed to guarantee an exhaustive contact between the theater operator and the prison environment.
The prison environment is a delicate and fickle place, which also changes substantially from country to country and which cannot always guarantee long-term certainty, being very volatile in its nature.
So each model of the operational program may undergo changes according to the vicissitudes that could happen, but it will always have to guarantee:
– the minimum hours established by the project
– activities inside the prison
– activities outside prison


The purpose of the training path is to train operators who will be able to work inside the prison thanks to the use of theatrical tools. This is why theater operators can come from different professional paths:
– actors or theater directors
– social theater operators
– social workers
– prison staff
– prison educators
– inmates themselves
– court curators
– cultural organizers
– students
– specialists from other fields, who wish to contribute to the work with Art/Theater inside prison (e.g. writers, craft makers, musicians, dancers, designers, volunteers in NGO’s, drama therapist’s, filmmakers, etc.)

The training program for theater operators must include four different levels that together will compose the entire training experience. The levels must be all four included in the training path.

The first level will be an observational, assistance phase. The operators will assist the director’s work, participating as observers attending the rehearsals and different phases of staging.
The theater operators will have the chance to know other realities operating in prison, deepen the history of artistic work in the social sphere.
The third level must includes moments of confrontation with directors and actors, not only during the practical work but through the creation of a relations with actors-inmates. It is important to ensure in any way a space for discussion with the operators, so that we can clarify doubts, perplexities, start discussions with them, especially if they have never worked with prisoners before.
The operators will experiment the management of the artistic work, with the supervision of the artistic director.

The workshop foreseen two different types of work:
1) in a theatre room
2) inside the national prison

Theoretical Part
Each partner will implement the training workshop in a theater room (for 6 hours workshop), dedicating this time to the theoretical part. The 6 hours can be splitted in more than one appointment and they can be joined to a part of the practical work e.g. when the operators will work together with the actors they can gather some minutes before and have an introduction, the operators can directly talk together with the former just after a session of practical work.

The theoretical part can includes the following items:
– presentation of the Freeway project, its objectives and its partners (mandatory)
– insights into the national laws and regulations governing the activities of Prison Theatre
– overview of the current situation of prisons and the living conditions of prisoners
– insights into the history of the partner: results, training courses, producted shows, methodologies, new artistic languages, past projects ..
– knowledge of the artistic and social rehabilitation initiatives of one’s own city / state
– discussion on problems and chances of artistic work in prisons

Practical Part
The second part must be carryed out in the national prison, if possible in coincidence with the theater workshop with actors/inmates, in order to begin the practical work with detainees (for 36 hours workshop) aimed at producing a theater performance.
The hours indicated refer to a minimum of hours, therefore it will be possible that the workshop lasts longer than the 42 total hours provided.

The theoretical part is obviously added to the part of work and practical teaching, where the operators will have to attend the work sessions held by the training partners. This is the real and proper field of learning, where the experience of the partners will be put at the service of the training of the operators, who will be able at first only to assist then also have practical experience of conducting the work.

It is important that the theater operators assist and actively participate in the development of the performance provided by the FREEWAY project. Each partner will decide how and how much to integrate their presence into the tests and preparation. It is important that operators know the work of the partners as fully as possible.

The practical part will be structured by each partner according to their previous experience and their methodology of work. Some exemple of what can be carried out:
– teaching how to structuring a work session (different phases of work: ice breaker, warm up, group work, individual tasks, sharing with the group, closing the session)
– Training and physical sessions in prison
– Vocal training in prison environment
– Development of materials starting from the common theme
– Feedback on their proposed exercises and attempt to apply them in the session
– Building their own personal training
– witnessing rehearsals of performance in prison
– witnessing warm up phase
– watching performance in prison
– weeting with actors after the performance
– meeting with the audience after the performance
– contribute to the development of the performance

The main output expected is the training of a group of operators who, at the end of the training path, will have acquired at professional level appropriate skills and competencies to run prison theater activities in a systematic and effective way. It is important for the sustainability of the project not to focus solely on an experience that is marked by a beginning and an end, but to leave the door open to sprout the seeds of knowledge cultivated during the training course. There are no institutionally recognized training courses focused on theater work in prison, it is therefore essential that operators become part of that restricted part of artists who put their art at the service of the social and rehabilitation within society.

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