Actors’ Gang taps emotions at California Correctional Institution

Prison inmates wear face paint and hats while rehearsing a scene.
CCI Actors' Gang Facilitator Jeremy Lonka and his inmate students rehearse a scene.

By Lt. Elias Garcia

California Correctional Institution (CCI) recently participated in a The Actors’ Gang presentation. Also attending was renowned actor Tim Robbins, who serves as founding artistic director for the rehabilitative theatrical programs. The project provides eight weeks of workshops within institutions.

These incarcerated individuals stepped out of their prison roles and out of their comfort zones in the Dec. 16, 2019 event. In the stage setting, inmates can express their fears, learn to be empathetic instead of angry, overcome gang ties, and most importantly, prepare for life beyond prison. The physical and emotional style of theater creates a supportive space for the inmate participants and is an ongoing weekly peer-led class.

The Actors’ Gang facilitators thanked the staff of CCI and acknowledged the support of the managerial staff in attendance. The inmate performers put on a show for the staff, who in turn applauded their efforts.

An audience watches inmate actors present a scene.
CCI Warden Sullivan, actor Tim Robbins and Associate Warden C. Schuyler watch The Actors’ Gang present their work.