2007 – 2011
Meri Pakarinen co founder and artistic director of the Strindberg Laboratory began the theater company in 2011 with the production of Miss Julie that was performed in Helsinki Finland. In the subsequent years original one person shows about famous artists like Helene Schjerfbeck, Elli Tompuri, Jane Avril, Toulouse Lautrec and Vincent Van Gogh were created and performed in the United States and Finland. View some of our videos and pictures from some of our older productions!!
Transformative Theater Workshops at Los Angeles Men’s Central Jail
In the K6G unit that houses gay and transgender men. This workshop has continued at the Jails and now we are also in CRDF Jail through Five Keys Charter School.
Theater Workshops at the Volunteers of America (VOA) on Skid Row
Due to the success of the Men’s Central Jail workshops, students wanted to continue working with us after being released. To answer that desire, in 2014 we began theater workshops at the Volunteers of America (VOA) on skid row where many of our students went to live after release from jail.
Developed at Skid Row, the play consists of 8 scenes based on real life experiences of the actors with freestyle raps connecting all of the scenes to produce an entertaining and enlightening audience experience. The audience gets a close-up look at the ups and downs of hustlers, pimps, prostitutes, corrupt ministers and ex-cons trying to survive in a world where the game is stacked against them.
The LA Times
Love is a Battlefield
Love is a battlefield was performed in 2014 at Men's Central Jail. It was created and performed by inmates from the K6G unit in the jail. The play explored many different types of loves, through songs, poetry, and scenes. The play was a testament to the fact that despite adversity and tribulations love conquers all.November
Jails to Jobs
The performers of Hustlin wanted to continue making plays with us but needed income. This led to the creation of our Jails to Jobs program in 2015. Through this program, our students who were leaving correctional facilities were employed teaching theater workshops to Los Angeles community providers, along with creating and performing original shows. Ongoing training and rehearsals for our Jails to Jobs program took place at the Vortex in downtown Los Angeles.
In July 2015, we created and performed an adaptation of Aristophanes’ The Birds with Jails to Jobs program members along with actors from The Union Rescue Mission.
"The Birds" is an adaptation of Aristophanes "The Birds" written 2500 years ago. "The Birds" is an anarchic, musical satire about finding freedom, getting back one’s faith and self-confidence and most of all how absolute power corrupts absolutely. This adaptation through original raps and songs brings a vision of what could happen if people from the fringes of society take over and come into power!
Awarded a Contract with the California Arts Council’s Prison Project
In 2015 Strindberg Laboratory was awarded a contract with the California Arts Council’s Prison Project and started working in California State Prison of Los Angeles County. The prison is a level 4 institution that had had very little programming, and the students on the yard we worked in had long sentences.
Redemption in Our State of Blues
Redemption In Our State of Blues is written and performed by the drama class from the B-yard at the California State Prison in Lancaster. The play is about redemption, love, community, and hope. It consists of eleven original scenes with raps, songs, and poems. The stories ask the question; "Are there second chances?" and "How do you grasp them in time with life’s challenges?"
Certificate of Recognition from Governor Jerry BrownNovember
We partnered FACT for our “Jails to Jobs” program
Our first nonprofit partner with our “Jails to Jobs” program was FACT (Family, Adult & Child Therapies) a nonprofit that provides quality care to children, adults, couples and families managing a large range of diagnoses.
Another Jails to Jobs production with our BITMI partners at the Los Angeles Mission about people who have faced adversity in their lives trying to seek help and be saved. The play captured the diversity and hope of people who have faced the impossible and their desire to turn their lives around.
Daroca’s Curious Journey
With support from Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, Meri Pakarinen, our Jails to Jobs program participants, and the FACT students created Daroca’s Curious Journey, which was performed in multiple venues in April, 2016. This was an important event, as people with criminal backgrounds have rarely been able to work within the autistic community due to requirements for background checks.April
Break It to Make It
In 2016, after seeing students in the jails being released and coming right back to jail, and working in prisons where some of our students never got out, we decided to build a great reentry program. The people that had been successful in our Jails to Jobs program all had three things in common; they were enrolled in college, had stable housing, and they had jobs.
With this in mind we partnered, with Los Angeles City College (LACC) and Los Angeles Mission (LAM) and we created Break It To Make It. This program offers people who have criminal backgrounds a foundation at Los Angeles Mission, and opportunity to achieve their higher educational goals through Los Angeles City College. Led by Assemblyman Mike Gipson (D-Carson), the State of California granted the funding to launch Break it to Make it, and the program began in January 2017. All our students are eligible for this program. We have an ongoing theater workshop at LAM so students can continue their artistic endeavors.
Three Original Shows with Students from the Prisons
In 2016 and 2017, with support from the California Arts Council’s Prison Project, we created three original shows with students from the prisons. Our workshop is now a college course and all of our students receive two transferable college credits through Los Angeles City College.
One Dream Away
The play is written and performed by persons with one to two year release dates in the B yard in California State Prison of Los Angeles County. The play is about their dreams and fears for the future and consists of eight original scenes with raps, songs, and poems. The scenes ask the question; Can I dream big enough to change my life and am I able to conquer my fears and fulfill my dreams?
Media Piece from USC Annenberg of School of Journalism
Fathers and Sons
Fathers and Sons" performed on the B yard in California State Prison of Los Angeles County in March of 2017. The play consisted of original and scripted material dealing with the relationships between fathers and sons. The families of our students who were incarcerated were allowed to have their family members attend the performancesMarch
“California Dreaming” was part of Strindberg Laboratory’s “Demonstration project” through California Arts Council’s “Prison Project” with people who are about to be released back into society. The play was formed from the dreams of our students about their family, relationships and their desire for a positive change. The play’s story centers on a lost soul who winds up in a magical train station where he is whisked away by a wise man who shows him how to build a better future through songs, scenes, dance, and poetry.June
Free Yo’ Mind
Free Yo' Mind was part of The Break it to Make It program's "Freedom Festival" at Los Angeles City College. The actors were participants of workshops with The Los Angeles Mission. All of the actors who participated in the production received two transferable college credits. The play was about people who are striving to overcome their trials and tribulations by using the advice and wisdom of Martin Luther King's "What Is In Your Life's Blueprint" speech to help them find their way to a brighter and more just future.
The Freedom Festival celebrated freedom for everyone, including those coming home from correctional facilities. The event showcased a wide variety of art, performances and speeches as well as booths with information on housing and educational and employment opportunities.
Murder Mystery Mayhem & Most Talented
The most recent TSL workshop for F.A.C.T. culminated in a production in February 2018, called “Murder Mystery Mayhem & Most Talented.” In a series of short pieces created by the participants that spanned a love murder mystery to making it in Hollywood, the common theme was breaking down stereotypical stigmas, which has great resonance in the lives of our participants.February