And you? Are you good or bad?

Your answer does not really matter. For who is good and who is bad? Who has never made a mistake or  an error?  And is there anyone who never had any good deeds? These are not the most important questions if you want to see the human in anyone. Everyone is searching for happiness, you too and also those who committed a crime. Everybody goes through hell. Tragedies, dreams and hopes, families torn apart. These are performances where inmate fathers can show their children what they are capable of. They turn into dragon, witch, dog, they are present, they tell stories, they play and proudly show themselves to their children.

Photo: Halmai Gyöngyi

The prison of Balassagyarmat gives place to fairy tale workshops since 2011. The workshops are organized by Tévelygőkért Foundation under the project called “Mirkó - for the children of prisoners”. The jailed fathers create stories from the events of their own lives, with music and text they write together and stage their own fairy tales which they perform two times a year at Christmas and Easter to their children. Prince Mirkó and Truth-telling Laci are the titles of two very special fairy plays which helps the fathers to keep their families together.

Stepping outside the usual walls, the fairy tale workshops of the Balassagyarmat prison held a public show in the Venyige Street Prison thus letting the interested public to see what happens in a fairy tale workshop at a prison: th different destinies, families, the unprocessed events and isolation. Imprisonment perceived as a life-crisis and the distant release generates huge tension what has to be addressed during the times spent in prison. Playing the story of life, processing bad experiences and experiencing good turns helps to place the series of events and see reality more clearly. The process of creating the fairy tales, the excitement of preparation and the experiences of success and failure during the rehearsals are all helping to absorb the memories and also to develop stress tolerance and self-knowledge. Most importantly, however, the show itself is an unforgettable experience. It strengthens family relationships and shows the father who plays and will do anything on stage to make their children proud.

Fotó: Pfliegel Bálint

Besides giving the feeling of pride fathers are great mentors too. They show what hell and the devil looks like. Do we have to get to the bottom of everything? Does money and power solve everything? No, these are only tools we believe they solve everything. But where does the happiness lives then? The play also showed that the secret is love, relationships which to experience and maintain the fairy tale workshops can help a lot.

Over the years the team has changed, many were released and new members joined. This performance was unique as two civilians played in the band too and the group played very well together regardless the bars separating them.  There was money poured, rap, dance, anyone could try themselves, release inhibitions and show what they can do. A special moment of the show was a photo: the photography showing the key to happiness was actually a picture of one actor’s mother. Laci has a long way to go, but now he knows which way to turn.

The desire for the moment of freedom and the feeling of a second chance connects the members of the fairy tale group. What will happen after they are released? What is waiting for them beyond the prison gate? Hopefully, less and less prejudice, a society ready for inclusion, but most importantly a happy child who can finally meet his long seen father.