Palmasola – A Prison Village

Curators’ Statement

The project Palmasola - A Prison Village by Christoph Frick and KLARA Theaterproduktionen from Basel (Switzerland), is based on years-long research of one of the world's most notorious prisons, the so-called Palmasola prison village in the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia. Built in the late 1980s, the prison is currently inhabited by over 6,000 men and women, of whom only 25% have been officially convicted. All the others are in a kind of preventive detention. Frick and his team are the only artistic company that has so far been granted permission to spend time inside Palmasola, talk to the inmates and other actors in this specific system and, in general, document their stay, which formed the basis of the performance. Palmasola tells the story of survival strategies necessary to endure such adverse social and living conditions. What intensifies this story even more is the manner in which it is told, as the audience are not merely passive observers watching something geographically or emotionally distant from the comfort of their seats in the dark. On the contrary, by watching this performance from the stage in close proximity to the performers, without being able to distance themselves or relax, viewers have the opportunity to somewhat experience what life is like in this prison village, but also to get a new perspective on the outside world they live in and the laws of survival within it, which may not be that very different from those in Palmasola.