In a Greek jail, inmates find freedom in theater

Thodoris Syrgianidis, 28, and other Korydallos Prison inmates rehearse before performing for fellow inmates in the ancient Greek tragedy 'Antigone,' in Korydallos, June 11. [Reuters]

On a stifling summer evening, the actors took to the stage: a grassy courtyard enclosed by towering prison walls, topped with barbed wire and lit by a floodlight.

The performers were inmates at Greece's maximum-security jail, and so was the audience. The play - ancient Greek tragedy 'Antigone', a story about free will, disobedience and authority - spoke to their hearts. For a short hour, they felt free.

Dressed in cream-coloured costumes, the men, aged between 24 and 63, had been practicing for this moment for months.

"Tomorrow is not a dead-end," they shouted in chorus as they took a bow, hand in hand, in the final act.

For two dozen inmates, the theatre workshop at Korydallos Prison, a sprawling complex in an impoverished part of Athens, had been a respite from the mundane and often gruelling routine of daily prison life and their crammed, rowdy cells....

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