It’s a unique programme consisting of a 45-day workshop, conducted by the prisons department and Sankalpa, an ngo set up for the prisoners’ "reformation through theatre". In addition to nurturing their dramatic talents, the workshop puts prisoners through yoga, meditation, painting, sculpting and sundry other therapeutic mediums. It also helps them draw up a course of employment ahead of their release from prison.
Hulugappa Kattimani, 42, student of the late theatre personality B.V. Karanth, anchors the workshops. Prisoners learn the ropes of drama from him and go on to climb them in a variety of ways, giving us Kannada versions of Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Hamlet and the late Bhisham Sahni’s Madhavi along the way. The last was telecast by Bangalore Doordarshan recently, making celebrities out of hardened criminals. Last year, inspired performances by a group of lifers won rave reviews at the National Theatre Festival on Shakespeare’s plays in Kasargode, Kerala.