Pollsmoor prisoners get in on the act

Pollsmoor inmates perform a tribute against gender-based violence in the country.

Pollsmoor inmates and parolees have performed a two-part play at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

Staged last Friday and Saturday, the play, Live, Love and Leave a Legacy, was part of the Second Chances Theatre Project, which gives offenders a chance to rewrite their stories and perform them publicly.

In the play, the inmates explored coloured identities and the history of gang violence and alcohol abuse in the coloured community.

They explored how someone’s upbringing could lead to life-changing decisions and they questioned how coloured people could challenge stereotypes.

The play had comedic moments and was filled with pop songs and dance. The actors performed monologues in Xhosa, English and Afrikaans, sharing their life stories.

Last year, the performers produced Mission (I’m) Possible, depicting the lives, hopes and dreams of Pollsmoor inmates.

This year, a dedication to Pollsmoor was also performed with a chorus painting a picture of an inmate’s first night in Pollsmoor. They described it as pure horror and talked about being scared and lonely.

They described prison life as demeaning and said there was no privacy even when going to the toilet.

They said they were remorseful about their choices and wanted another try at life. Everyone deserved second chances, they said.

Audience members were asked to fill in a questionnaire about how the play might have changed the way they see prisoners.

The Second Chances Project is a collaboration between NICRO, UCT Dance and Performance Studies, the Department of Social Development and Pollsmoor Prison.