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Francesca Rotolo

Francesca Rotolo
Francesca Rotolo
She takes art and culture into prisons in Rome and Cassino. Fairy tales in support of parenting.
Photo by Antonio Barrella
Francesca Rotolo
Francesca Rotolo

“Once upon a time, long, long ago...” So begins a shared journey – an empathic, emotional relationship and a voyage of growth which feeds upon universal emotions. The unique relationship between a parent and a child. But when identities – and particularly fatherhood – are erased by imprisonment, is this still possible? One hundred thousand children enter the 213 Italian prisons to visit their imprisoned parents. How to reconnect these severed wires and resume this interrupted journey?

“By telling a story,” is the conviction of 30-year-old Francesca Rotolo, director and artistic director of the MAST Officina delle Arti Association and head of the Liber Liberanti project. She knows what it means to take theatre into a jail: she worked as assistant director to Fabio Cavalli in Giulio Cesare Alla Prova and was actor-coach on the set of the Taviani brothers' film Cesare Deve Morire. She knows the magic of theatre in prison because she has experienced it first hand. “I wanted to make a personal journey, create something of my own”, she says, and she managed to carry out her project in the Rebibbia women's prison. A workshop, staging readings of fairy tales and fables with the inmates. First there is the reading, then they begin to improvise, stimulating memories and making free association. The women of Rebibbia throw themselves into it: ironic, and willing to look at themselves and connect with their own repressed emotions. And from this begins a process of the rewriting and retelling of fairy tales to create dramatised readings and the staging of texts they themselves have written. A similar process is underway with the inmates of the prison of Cassino – the fathers. A sensory journey, where “extraordinary things” happen.

But Francesca wants more. For the first time, publishers have entering the prison buildings to speak about their projects and help the inmates choose texts for their children. Her dream? “To take the inmates outside Rebibbia. In Italy, this has never happened”.

The story has been written by Elisabetta Flumeri e Gabriella Giacometti, writers.

 

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