A documentary stage play about the children of prisoner premiered at JVA-Wriezen
MOZ, Oderland Echo, September 3, 4 2016
By Lucas Vogel
Wriezen (MOZ) – How do children feel when their parents are in prison? The decision of theatre director Monika Dobrowlanska to address this question resulted in a new a play. With the support of Freie Hilfe Berlin and SPD member of state parliament Simona Koß, it celebrated its premiere at JVA-Wriezen.
“My son is 2,5 years old. My girlfriend tells him the daddy is looking for a rainbow”. This is how a prisoner of JVA-Wriezen replies to the question, if he already has a child and if his child knows where he is. Young offenders were among the participants of the discussion after the play. The penitentiary in Wriezen is the only institution in Brandenburg which is responsible for young criminals. Many of them are already fathers. Some of them have experienced being the chid of a prisoner themselves. How it is when your dad or your mom is in prison and what social consequences does it have for you? The artistic group, ‘multicultural city’ headed by Monika Dobrowlanska decided to analyze this topic.
The project was supported by means of the association Freie Hilfe Berlin, which works with prisoners and homeless people. Resultantly, a play was created, starring Christine Rollar, Mirja Henking, and David Kopp, and titled “Secrets. What I do not know…!”
It was previously shown in the prison Berliner offenen Vollzug as well as at the school „Auf den Seelower Höhen“. The project was supported by SPD member of state parliament Simona Koß, who also attended the premiere in Wriezen.
The play consists of two storylines that are taking place parallel to each other. Walter, played by David Kopp, has moved to a new place together with his mother and is new at school. He hates curious questions of his schoolmates. Nobody should find out that his father – a sentenced arms dealer – is in prison. “He eloped with another woman “, he constantly repeats.
A nightmare starts for Elfi, when her mother comes to jail after having committed a crime of passion– she killed her boss, who had been harassing her for years. Elfi is so ashamed that she doesn’t know how to go on anymore.
“Our aim is to address this taboo topic. When I started to deal with it, I was very surprised how little material there was. However we kept working on it and succeeded. An artist has sometimes to be stubborn”, Monika Dobrowlanska said.
It is estimated that there are around 100,000 children in Germany who have a parent in jail. When this fact becomes known, the children are often stigmatized. Besides this theme, the play also addresses the problems of alcohol consumption and violence within the family – situations that many of the young prisoners have already experienced first-hand.
There are around 100 prisoners at JVA-Wriezen at the moment. Nearly half of them were at the premiere voluntarily. It is possible that some prisoners came because the play, which was shown in the prison’s gym, would be a nice change to daily routine.
At some points the play did not seem to have the prisoners’ attention, and some prisoners went out for a smoke instead of watching. At other points, for example when Walter portrayed how he dreams of a solitary palm island and describes it in detail, one could hear a pin drop. It was a dream which one or the other might have already had. When Chistine Rollar needed a prisoner for a short scene and said, “You, Till Schweiger, come here,” laughter broke out. At the conclusion of the play, Rollar quoted Arthur Schopenhauer: “Fate shuffles the cards and we play“.