Radio play premiere – docu-fiction series from prison: “Learning to swim” – radio play


In the theatrical radio series Learn to Swim, fictional scenes from everyday prison life are supplemented by real interviews from a Swiss prison. Guests say what it’s like when you have to re-learn freedom little by little. Like learning to swim – but sometimes without water.

What is the matter?

The new docu-fiction series is about a lost freedom and an attempt to get it back. The place is a mock prison somewhere in Switzerland. If the doors are closed, new rules apply.

All episodes can be heard here:

There are new concerns. You have to organize yourself differently. Waiting for the next visit, the next message, the next phone call. Can’t access the internet or cell phone. To feel that life is passing you by on the outside and that you are sitting inside and no longer notice anything. This helplessness, this anger, this loneliness. Fear of what comes after prison. Does actual community punishment begin only after release?

Aram, Valmir, Giovanni and Radu are men with completely different lives. All of them are in prison for murder, drug, fraud and theft. And they all want to be free again someday. The Society of Destiny tries not to lose touch with the “outside” world. But this is difficult in everyday life.

The fictional story about Aram and his community is complemented by original audio interviews. They were in a Swiss prison before Director Karen Brie And the Author Sabina Termat guided. Five inmates talk about their daily lives in prison. And what it is when you lose your freedom and a gap opens between the “outer” world and the “inside” world where there is no privacy.

At first I wrote a lot. But when I realized the prosecutor was reading together, I stopped. I started writing a diary. And you don’t actually read (someone else’s) diary. But here everything is different.

Even the diary is checked. The things you want to write from the soul, you keep to yourself. Because imprisonment means that you are transparent. Constant monitoring and surveillance can be difficult for inmates who want to work on themselves and prepare for life after prison. It’s like learning to swim in a pool without water.

Playing with the views

Daily life in prison is characterized by red tape, restrictions, bureaucracy, lack of communication and ideas of the future. The docu-fiction accompanies the prisoners on their rocky path to return and reintegration into society and allows them to talk about their experiences. The series of radio plays raise questions about punishment and rehabilitation.

[Ich wünschte mir, ] That I could do something more important than prison. That I would go further in the direction of redemption…

Author Sabina Termat and director Karen Brie skillfully play the different perspectives of the characters. A web of impressive stories, powerful emotions, and unexpected twists and turns spans the interactions of inmates, guards, and aliens.

The fictional scenes and original sounds of the interview are accompanied by music by Martin Pezola.

Author Sabina Termat

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Nandor Nadji

Writer Sabina Altermat worked as a teacher in several Swiss prisons and developed the idea for this series with one prisoner. She was born in Chur in 1966 and grew up there. She studied political science at the University of St. Gallen. Today she heads the Domestic Violence Coordination Center in canton Graubünden.


Aram and his co-stars are played by professional actors. The interviews, on the other hand, were recorded with real prisoners. This creates an interesting mix of documentary and fiction.

Characters and their story

Where do you hear it?

As of August 15, 2022, episodes can be heard every Monday at 2pm on SRF Radio 1. Already on all popular podcast apps or on Play SRF.

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With: Dimitri Stapfer (Aram), Thomas Sarbacher (Radu), Dashmir Ristemi (Valmir), Aaron Hitz (Mirko), Enzo Skanzi (Giovanni), Peter Hottinger (Mr. Schwartz), Aniko Donath (Mrs. Germain), Franziska von Fischer ( Mrs. Woodtley), Stefano Wink (chapter, inmate), Danny Mangesh (guardian), Gabriella Steinmann (Roswitha), Agota Dimen (Aram’s mother), Sabina Altermat (nanny)

Music: Martin Pezzola
Radio playback version: Sabina Termat, Karen Brie
Sound Engineer: Roland Watzer
Directed by Karen Brie
Production: SRF 2022
Duration: 25 minutes each

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