Who We Are
He had had no such outlet for his creative energies while in prison.
With the help of a small group of dedicated and wonderfully supportive friends, some of whom are still on the board, I set up Kestrel almost twenty years ago now. The guiding principle behind the company was, and is, creatively to use drama within the prison system. But it was also to provide a company structure which could independently raise funds for prison work, rather than relying on the prisons themselves being able to afford it, from what tend always to be tight and overstretched budgets. We hoped this would ensure the independence of the work, and maximize the creative freedom of those involved, as we would not necessarily have to satisfy existing remedial or rehabilitative agendas. We were right.
Though no longer active at Kestrel, since I now live and work in the USA, I remain proud to see the company continuing to do work that is not only an outlet for the creative energies of those involved, but can in some cases be life-changing. We never claimed to be therapists, or social workers – indeed, we always took pains to point out that we were not. But the work can have a similarly profound impact.
Long may it continue. Long may the caring and enlightened continue to support it.”
Mek is a barrister practising from Crown Office Chambers. He specialises in commercial and civil disputes. Mek has been involved in prison-orientated initiatives for a few years and has provided debating training and mentoring to inmates across London.
Holly Race Roughan
Holly Race Roughan is Associate Artistic Director at Headlong and a director of new writing. She was Executive Producer and a director of unprecendented the drama series for the BBC and Century Films starring Lennie James, James Norton and Meera Syal and most recently directed David Morrissey and Leanne Best in THE GHOST CALLER for Headlong. Holly co-founded SIGNAL FIRES the nationwide festival for touring theatre companies, and directed the UK tour of the award-winning production PEOPLE, PLACES & THINGS with Jeremy Herrin. Also for Headlong, she directed HEDDA TESMAN, starring Haydn Gwynn, in a new version of Hedda Gabler by the award-winning playwright Cordelia Lynn. From 2018-19 she was the Director of the Lyric Ensemble at the Lyric Hammersmith, and directed THE MOB REFORMERS by Omar El-Khairy. Amongst other plays Holly has also directed PRURIENCE for the South Bank Centre and the Guggenheim in New York and EYE OF A NEEDLE for the Southwark Playhouse. Holly is about to co-direct a new version of METAMORPHOSES for the Globe Theatre in London. She is represented by Rachel Taylor at Casarotto & Ramsay Associates.
For Kestrel Holly has made BROKEN DREAMS and BLOOD & WATER for the Royal Court, SKY FALL, JACK A LAD IN THE BEANSTALK at HMP Springhill and films THE 360 DEGREE MAN and NO GOING BACK at HMP Springhill and HMP Aylesbury. Holly has also worked for arts in prison charities Synergy and Unlock Drama.
Prisoner Engagement Officer
Marc works as a Prisoner Engagement Officer for The Prison Reform Trust. He is also an academic, and a public speaker for prison reform with over 26 years experience of the CJS. He has worked on many occasions with Kestrel, playing the lead role in Broken Dreams, our second collaboration with The Royal Court Theatre, London.
Eleanor is a director, community arts leader and actress, who trained at both Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. She was Associate Director of Battersea Arts Centre’s Homegrown Company and has extensive experience as a director and leader of projects with young people and adults all over the UK and internationally. As an actress, she has performed in venues including Hammersmith Lyric, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Salisbury Playhouse and the Soho Theatre. For Kestrel, she directed Rio’s Extraordinary Christmas (HMP Springhill 2019), and also runs the weekly drama club with Jason York. She also directed ‘After Time’ as Kestrel’s contribution to Signal Fires.
She started in post as Artistic Director in September 2021.
Simon Longman is a playwright from the West Midlands. His plays include Island Town (Paines Plough), Gundog (Royal Court), Rails (TBTL), White Sky (RWCMD/Royal Court), Sparks (Old Red Lion) and Milked (Pentabus Theatre Company). In 2018 he was awarded the 49th George Devine award for Most Promising Playwright. For Kestrel Simon was the writer on both our Broken Dreams projects with The Royal Court Theatre and has run our playwriting workshops in HMP Grendon.
Jason York is an actor on both stage and screen, mostly recently in Passages: A Windrush Celebration at The Royal Court Theatre, and The Home, an experiential entertainment about residential care. For Kestrel he has worked as an acting consultant for both Broken Dreams projects and for Jack Aladdin The Beanstalk. He also runs our Drama Club at HMP Springhill.
We first met Nathanial at HMP Springhill were he took part in our first collaboration with the Royal Court, Blood and Water, and then in a short film The 360° Man. After leaving prison he got a place on the Sara Putt Associates Foundation Scheme in Film and TV, and since then has worked as runner, floor manager, and most recently as an editor for Netflix. He was also an actor in Secret Cinema’s version of Baz Lermann’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’. He has spoken about his work with Kestrel on a number of occasions including at On Form (pictured)