Bermuda Festival Holds Workshop At Westgate

January 10, 2023

The Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts outreach programme held a workshop for men incarcerated at Westgate, with ten men taking part.

A spokesperson said, “For example, on November 15, 2022 at 9:15am the Bermuda Festival initiated a ground breaking Outreach programme here in Bermuda. Five actors from the Shakespeare company The Actors from the London Stage, based in London and the University of Notre Dame, arrived at the doors of Westgate Correctional Facility to conduct a workshop on communication and emotional control. Ten inmates signed up and participated in the workshop.”

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Cindy Campbell, Executive Director of the Festival, noted, “We were very excited to create this initiative with the support of the Commissioner of Corrections. Theatre is an amazing vehicle to teach valuable lessons which will instill skills for social re-entry.

“Acting is all about communication, about telling your story so that it is heard positively. Actors learn to listen, to understand their own body language and body language of others, to control their breathing, and to accept errors and learn from mistakes. All these skills which translate directly to life.”

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Utilising theatre games, the actors adroitly included everyone in the room, including Corrections’ staff, and created a safe and fun environment to learn.

Actor Anne Odeke summed up the day this way, “Acting in its simplicity is about connection. As a group of British Shakespearean actors, we had the absolute privilege of being invited into Westgate Correctional Facility to work with and connect with several of its inmates.

“Drama teaches teamwork, builds confidence, invites those who normally prefer to hide in shadows to step forward into the light, and supports the knowledge that it’s ok to make mistakes, it’s how we pick ourselves up that’s important [I've had several mishaps on stage in my 10 years as an actor, but as we all know, 'The show must go on'].

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“Within the chapel, we managed to create an environment that felt safe enough for inmates and staff to make mistakes and laugh about it. Laughter is a wonderful thing, it heals.

“Within those two hours it was like everyone forgot ‘the rules’, and for a time, could be themselves. We offered them ways to control their emotions – techniques we use as actors when having to perform at venues such as Shakespeare’s Globe in front of 1500 people. In short, drama works. Don’t believe me? Ask the inmates.”

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After the session, the actors all noted that that experience was “one of the most moving and inspirational moments in their 10-week tour.”

Ms. Campbell said, “Everyone fully participated and were willing to move ‘out of their comfort zones’ to try new things. There was a great deal of laughter, encouragement, and camaraderie in that space.”

Commissioner Keeva Joell-Benjamin commented, “We were pleased to work with the Bermuda Festival on this Outreach programme. I was very pleased by how enthused and engaged the inmates were. I am glad that we were able to join forces to make this happen. I look forward to possibly working together in the future when there are other opportunities.”

The spokesperson said, “To view the 48th Bermuda Festival Outreach brochure visit Some applications have already been closed. To view the lineup of shows and purchase tickets visit”

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  1. Fantastic News says:

    Breaking the mould with something creative. Well done.