Our story

Founded over 20 years ago, Synergy creates ground-breaking work across theatre and the criminal justice system.  We believe that theatre can be transformative, change perceptions, and open up new possibilities towards a more positive future. We live in a world where some of the most disadvantaged are over-represented in the criminal justice system and our vision is to work through theatre towards a fairer world where those within or at risk of entering the criminal justice system can discover alternate pathways and become an integral and meaningful part of society.

Our programme of artistic work harnesses the energy and life experiences of those we work with – prisoners, ex-prisoners, young offenders, and young people at risk of offending – gives them a voice and, in doing so, their dignity back. We want to inspire change by capturing the imagination and affecting the feelings, behaviours and attitudes of participants and public, whilst doing our part to influence the arts and criminal justice sectors towards systemic change.

Our work provides practical opportunities which develop participants’ skills, capabilities, and resilience, builds a bridge from prison to social reintegration, provides vital support to rehabilitation, and seeks to prevent young people from entering the criminal justice system

Theatre productions

Theatre productions in prisons, theatres, schools, alternative provision and non-traditional venues

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Adult programme offering theatre-based training to prisoners and ex-prisoners leading to placements and employment

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Young people

Young people’s programme comprising touring productions, projects and workshops for young people at risk of offending led by artists and ex-prisoners

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Role play training

Role play training for criminal justice sector professionals led by ex-prisoner actor facilitators

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The Stage 100 Award
Howard League Trust Award
Highly commended
Criminal Justice Alliance
Writers’ Guild Award
Brian Way Award
Butler Trust Award

Member stories

Member storyKarl
Member storyMichelle, Valentine, Bubs & Charlie
Member storyTyrone
You saved me not because you changed my life, but because your showed me that change was possible
Prisoner actor, Fallout

Our people


Esther Baker
Artistic Director
Jennie McClure
General Manager
Neil Grutchfield
New Writing Manager
Siân Henderson
Learning & Engagement Manager, Young People
Alesha Pryce
Learning & Engagement Manager, Young People (Maternity cover)
Julie Shaw
Development Manager
Karl Smith
Learning & Engagement Assistant, Adults


Jules Carey
Paula Hamilton
Clióna Roberts
Deborah Samuel
Jonathan Smith
Gaby Sumner
Catherine Thornborrow


Martin McDonagh

Past productions

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The Special Relationship


To My Younger Self


There is a Field

Maybe change starts with plays like this
Guardian, Girls Like That