Fringe Festival show highlights women’s struggles after prison

Bambi Friday (right), who was formerly incarcerated, works on a performance for the Fringe Arts Festival in which she expresses the struggles of re-entry. Seated is Natasha Cohen-Carroll, an associate of Theater of the Oppressed Philadelphia. (Peter Crimmins/WHYY)

Bambi Friday (right), who was formerly incarcerated, works on a performance for the Fringe Arts Festival in which she expresses the struggles of re-entry. Seated is Natasha Cohen-Carroll, an associate of Theater of the Oppressed Philadelphia. (Peter Crimmins/WHYY)

As the Philadelphia Fringe festival continues this weekend, one of its offerings is a performance featuring formerly incarcerated women revealing the struggles they face as ex-cons, stage by Theater of the Oppressed Philadelphia.

Theater of the Oppressed is a theatrical movement born in Brazil in the 1970s, fonded on the idea that people who are maltreated by society have developed valuable tools to survive their oppression.

Borderlands” is a series of monologues, actions, and interactive conversations with the audience meant to heighten awareness of what returning former prisoners go through, and their inherent survival skills.

One of the participants is Bambi Friday, who recently was released from a three-year stint in prison for selling drugs. She has no theatrical background, but says the stage work is helping her reintegrate into society.

“The different games and stuff we’ve been playing gives me a diff way of looking at situations, looking at my behavior. Opening my eyes to something I’ve never experienced before,” said Friday. “This is all new to me — I’ve never had this type of stuff in my life.”

“Borderlands” will be performed Saturday at the Asian Arts Initiative, and the Theater of the Oppressed has added a second show next weekend in West Philly, at the Studio 34 yoga studio.

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