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MALIBU – While most theater directors rejoice at the sight of actors returning to work with them, Susie Duff finds the reunion bittersweet. Creator of a theater program for kids serving time in juvenile camps, Duff would prefer never working with her actors once they’re released. “The recidivism rate is bad,” said Duff, while rehearsing with 10 actors at Los Angeles County Probation Camp Vernon Kilpatrick for a storytelling festival at Exposition Park today. “I’m mad that you’re back here, but I’m glad to see you,” Duff recently told two boys who were sent back to the camp to serve more time. While her program is called “Locked Up In Malibu,” its goal is to liberate adolescent creativity through theatrical improvisation and open their minds to more positive associations with their peers and people from other backgrounds. “It’s very hard to hate someone you just laughed with,” Duff said. A classically trained actor whose made her living on commercials, Duff said she began doing volunteer work in the camp system 12 years ago. Her work over the years at county youth probation camps David Gonzalez and Kilpatrick was prompted by a friend’s comment to her kids. After a particularly bad day with her children, Duff’s friend took them for a ride. “She drove up her kids … to Camp David Gonzalez,” Duff said. “`This is where the bad kids go,”‘ she said her friend told her kids. “She thought that was such a great move, and I was horrified,” Duff said. “How can we, with all the power and privilege that we have in Malibu, (say) that a) there are such a thing as bad kids and b) those kids are any less than we are? … The difference is when our kids get locked up, we have the money and the means to help them.” Craig Levy, director of Camp Kilpatrick, which houses males 12 to 18 years of age sentenced through juvenile courts, said programs such as Duff’s allow some young people to experience success for the first time. “This is the first time any of our kids have been out on a stage,” Levy said about the positive experience of applause. “It opens their eyes to something they’ve never been able to do before and now they know they can do it. It’s no longer a question.” WANT TO GO? The Sixth Annual Los Angeles Storytelling Festival, today, 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., EXPO Center, 3980 S. Menlo Ave., Exposition Park. Locked Up In Malibu will perform at 4:30 p.m. Visit lastorytellingfestival.com160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!