Colombia prisoners regain vainness thru theatre


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Antonio Galante workshop

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Theatre was a solution to get away the drudgery of the jail regimen for Mario Salazar

Mario Salazar by no means imagined he would in the future be glad about the time he spent in jail.

The Colombian investor used to be arrested in Bogotá as he used to be about to board a airplane to town of Cali in 2012.

He used to be satisfied the government had made a mistake however, because it became out, it used to be he who had made the error.

11 years previous, he were summoned to court docket on fraud fees. He attended the primary listening to satisfied the case would quickly be disregarded.

So nonchalant used to be he, that once he moved house, it by no means came about to him to check in his trade of cope with with the government. Next court docket summons didn’t succeed in him.

Since he by no means once more confirmed up at court docket, the Colombian justice gadget sentenced him in absentia to 6 years in jail, and issued his arrest warrant.

Six-year sentence

It used to be handiest when he used to be taken to Los angeles Picota, one among Colombia’s maximum notorious prisons, that he remembered the fraud case which had landed him there.

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Antonio Galante workshop

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Mario Salazar used to be dreaming of “libertad” (freedom), one thing he would succeed in previous during the workshops he taught

Willing to flee the confines of his jail mobile from day one, he requested to be allowed to visit the jail library.

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There he noticed a piano which gave him an concept. He knew the best way to play piano and possibly giving courses to different inmates may lend a hand scale back his sentence?

He approached the jail government and whilst they didn’t comply with his plan for piano courses, they proposed an alternate.

They wanted any individual to guide a venture subsidized by way of the justice ministry to create theatre teams in jail.

Salazar agreed to discovered a troupe in Los angeles Picota.

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Felipe Gómez

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To start with, 10 inmates joined Los angeles Picota’s theatre team

He held an audition among the prisoners and selected 10 out of the 50 who introduced themselves.

They started to review screenplays and staged Roberto Zucco, a French comedy in accordance with the real-life tale of a tender guy who murdered his father, used to be locked up and escaped.


For Salazar, the theatre team was a respite from the melancholy brought about by way of jail lifestyles. He made new pals and it made him replicate on his lifestyles, he says.

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Antonio Galante

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Inmates have carried out each outside and inside of the jail

He started to look his jail time period as one thing certain, as one thing that grounded him.

He says he wanted he were a greater father to his 11-year-old daughter and a greater husband to his ex-wife.

“Lifestyles billed me for my mistakes with jail,” he concludes, now 44 with greying hair however a nonetheless younger face.

Salazar’s willpower to the theatre venture used to be recognised by way of the government with a discount in his sentence from six years to 3.

However along with his lifestyles completely modified, returning to his process as an investor used to be no longer an possibility for Salazar.

‘No longer like college’

All the way through his time in Los angeles Picota he had additionally met a girl who shared his hobby for jail schooling.

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Antonio Galante

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Mario Salazar teamed up with pupil Tatiana Arango to show inmates workshops

Pupil Tatiana Arango taught a literature appreciation route in Los angeles Picota which the jail warden inspired Salazar’s theatre team to wait.

Salazar says there used to be fast chemistry between the 2 but it surely took them nearly a yr to recognize their emotions for every different.

For her grasp’s thesis, Ms Arango evolved an academic style focussing on artwork and after Salazar’s liberate the 2 arrange a basis to position her style into follow.

The Salazar Arango basis now holds all kinds of workshops in Los angeles Picota.

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Antonio Galante workshop

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Colombian artist Antonio Galante runs gentle portray workshops with prisoners in Los angeles Picota

About 100 prisoners attend their twice-weekly theatre, track, literature, drawing, circus and radio workshops. Amongst those that participate are thieves, rapists, murderers, rebels and paramilitaries.

“This isn’t like instructing at college,” Ms Arango says. She says that the instructors have to conform the curriculum to take on one of the most extraordinarily detrimental feelings inmates have.

She says that group of workers have discovered that theatre specifically does wonders for prisoners’ vainness. Inmate David Gonzáles is a shining instance of what the programme can succeed in.

Gonzales used to be jailed for digital robbery after he and his gang of hackers stole from banks.

‘Manufacturing facility of monsters’

He first were given concerned with the Salazar Arango basis thru a pictures workshop six months after he used to be jailed. However it used to be the theatre workshop the place he actually shone. He wrote his personal play in regards to the emotional levels many prisoners are living thru, starting from melancholy to worry.

And along with his newly discovered self assurance he satisfied the jail government to let him mud off the piano and a couple of guitars saved within the jail library to create Los angeles Picota’s handiest rock band.

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Felipe Gómez

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Abolition is a rock band made up of inmates of Los angeles Picota

With a drum set manufactured from tambourines, congas and buckets, the band, referred to as Abolition, plays within Los angeles Picota a number of instances a yr.

In October, the root even controlled to get permission for Abolition to accomplish in Bogotá’s central Bolívar sq..

Gonzáles says he burst with satisfaction when he heard his fellow inmates sing his songs in entrance of 1000’s of other folks.

Jail, he says, has a perilous dehumanising impact. “I see the program as a manufacturing facility of monsters who one day will likely be thrown into society,” he says in regards to the jail regime at Los angeles Picota.

However during the paintings of the root, he provides, inmates have regained some self-respect.

“They make it transparent that, regardless of how horrible our crimes, we also are worthy of status at the theatre level.”

All pictures courtesy of the Salazar Arango Basis.

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