Havoc Docs (Allison Hebble, David Diliberto, Tim Robbins)
45 Seconds of Laughter
A group of incarcerated men from Calipatria State Prison participate in a theatrical workshop with Tim Robbins’ theatre company, The Actors’ Gang. Defying racial barriers and gang affiliations, the men tap into emotions that have long been dormant while unexpected bonds emerge between former enemies. Using stock characters from the Commedia dell’Arte, the men struggle with the challenges of the violent environment they live in as they work towards a transformation and liberation unknown to their life behind bars.
While shooting The Shawshank Redemption and Dead Man Walking I got an inside look into the brutal nature of the U.S. prison system. We had abandoned any idea of rehabilitation, and instead were running our prisons in a punitive way that required a dehumanisation of the incarcerated. I also became acutely aware that most television shows and movies portrayed the incarcerated as scary, dangerous, amoral animals that posed a great threat to society. This wasn’t reflective of the majority of people I had met in prison. Thirteen years ago I began working with The Actors’ Gang to develop rehabilitative programs in California State Prisons. We asked for the difficult ones, we asked that every class be racially mixed, that rival gangs meet in the same room. We discovered something surprising and profoundly human in those classrooms, an experience that changed all of us, and a story that I felt needed to be told.
PRODUCTION: Allison Hebble, David Diliberto, Tim Robbins - Havoc Docs
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