It took some serious convincing to talk the warden into letting us perform here in the center of the entire prison, but because he had seen the previous presentations we had done at this prison last week, he allowed it and trusted us. All the patios and cells look into this area and so beside the 700 prisoners that were allowed to come into the circle, all the other men could hear and partially see.
There are some cell blocks where the men are NEVER let out into the court to exercise. It is really hard to see all these men hanging on the bars and reaching their arms out hoping to receive anything, even just a little attention. After we were done with our presentation, we went over and just talked to the men that had seen our show, but can not get out from behind the bars. We gave them some things we had and tried to lift their spirits. A lot of them have a life sentence.
It was a very cold, cloudy day and had just snowed heavy on the mountains the day before. Some of these guys were freezing and I was glad to have some extra clothes to give some of them. This one guy who had just gotten in, maybe 20 years old, told us that one day he was so hungry, he went into a store and was going to steal something to eat, when another guy tried to stop him. He ended up killing the guy by mistake and now was here for the rest of his life.
We have all made mistakes, some worse than others and we can never take them back or change our past. But we can change, and thus resolve our present situation and find a future. We do an act where we go from being in chains, to spinning poi in a beautiful dance that conveys the idea that all though they may not be free physically, they can go “some place” in there mind and find a real freedom to become new (this is through a detailed theater act with a lot more involved).