Collective punishment

Theater project


What I do not know…!

A documentary stage play in cooperation with Freie Hilfe e.V., FEZ-Berlin and TAK Theater im Aufbau Haus within the project „Collective punishment“

Funded by Fund Soziokultur e.V.

According to „Nenn mich einfach super – Just call me super“ by Reinhold Ziegler, „Mama im Knast – Mum in hoosegow“ by Maja Gerber-Hess and documentary material

Text version, concept and directing: Monika Dobrowlańska
With Christine Roller, Mirja Henning and David Kopp
Sketches: Irina Polubesov

Preview: 28th of mai 2016, 2 p.m., FEZ-Berlin, Performing Arts Festival Berlin 2016

Premiere for young: 15th of June, 2016, 10.30 a.m., FEZ-Berlin

Premiere for adults: 18th of June, 2016, 8 p.m., TAK Theater im Aufbau Haus Berlin, followed by a public discussion

Performances 2017: 17.06.2017, 4 p.m. and 7.30 p.m., TAK Theater im Aufbau Haus Berlin, Performing Arts Festivals Berlin 2017

further performances:

Walter goes to a new school, again. It is clear that the new class wants to know where he comes from. But that is a topic Walter does not like at all. „I am from the city, you villagers!“, he says. The intimidation works. He also provides an answer to the question about his father: he eloped with an other woman. Walter struggles along with his sassiness. Probably nobody would get to know the truth, would not there be the fact that suddenly a strange story about a kidnapping occured…Target group: youth from 13 years upwards and adults

When her mother got imprisoned, a nightmare begins for Elfi: her mother killed her own boss, who extorted and bullied her. Elfie is stunned and is so ashamed that she does not know how to proceed. Her feelings for her mother are as if on a rollercoaster ride and vary from compassion to hatred. In time of dearth she also get to know her friends. A lot of people from school and her city where she lives, show her mistrust and prejudices. Whisperings and looks of her classmates and neighbours make her very insecure…

The production states in a realistic and vivid way how hard the situation is for children of prisoners and to which extent the life of a whole family is changed by that. The absolute centre of our interest is the perspective of the children, their experience of the imprisonment and separation as well as their own situation. This perspective becomes the aesthetic category of the production. It is often beyond common stereotypes, and is marked by a freshness, naivity and original interpretation as well as diverse questions. The perspective of the prisoners’ children and their parents had been developed in creative workshops and replaced by personal interviews.

Point of origin: It is estimated that 100.000 children in Germany are concerned that either their mother or father are imprisoned. When the circumstances of the imprisonment become known, the children are often stigmatized, too. They experience discrimination and social disadvantage outside their family, e.g. in kindergarten and school. The extreme disadvantages which young people have to face with imprisoned parents and therefore their special need for support, are neither acknowledged in Germany nor in other European countries. Not until 2014 the first and last study was conducted about their situation and risks for mental health.

Our project pursues the aim to break taboos regarding „Children of Inmates“. The main aim of our project is to give voice to these children and to change perspectives and focus on the children. It is meant to serve as an awareness campaign that raises awareness of society about an invisible group, to give it a voice and to effect acknowledgement within the public and politics. The thematization and reprocessing of this neglected topic has never taken place by now in art. Not just in Germany, but also in other European countries the issue has not occurred within art.



Accompanying educational programme

Theater programme: educational theater preparation of the students and teachers for the performance, including preparatory talk and debriefing.

Travelling exhibition „Heroic“, Freie Hilfe Berlin e.V.: the travelling exhibition „heroic“ deals with the situation of children of imprisoned parents within different exhibits. Besides the theoretical background and information for a clarification about this difficult living situation, it also suggests, edited in an appealing way, interactive elements for sensitization and emotional involvement with the topic. These are realized by accessible elements, picture and sound. The visitors get to know inter alia the reasons for a traumatisation after the imprisonment of parents and the kind support which is necessary for the affected children to encourage their resilience. Furthermore family members can gain access to additional offer of help.

The results will be published as a book including reports and interviews.

Workshops: in the period of November 2015-January 2016 we offered creative workshops in the course of our projects for affected children and their parents.