Who We Are
Founding Patron“In the theatre, during my working lifetime, I heard a lot spoken by my colleagues about the need to reach out to new audiences. In the late 1980s, I happened to get to know a man who had spent over twenty years in prison. He was intelligent, creative and articulate, and hugely enjoyed the theatre – which he was only just beginning to experience, having married an actress/writer friend of mine shortly after his release.
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Though no longer active at Kestrel, since I now live and work in the USA, I remain proud to see the company continuing to do work that is not only an outlet for the creative energies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.”
Artistic DirectorArabella Warner is a producer, director and scriptwriter for children’s television, working on many award winning shows. She believes passionately in the positive power of the arts to change the outlook of those marginalised in our society. She has been involved with Kestrel’s work for many years and been Kestrel’s Artistic Director since 2015.
Holly Race Roughan
Associate DirectorHolly Race Roughan is Associate Director on the National Theatre and Headlong’s People, Places and Things, and is directing the UK Tour with Jeremy Herrin. As a director she works in new writing, and has made work at the Royal Exchange in Manchester, the Southwark Playhouse and Theatre 503 in London, directed for the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama and Central School of Speech and Drama. For Kestrel Holly has directed The 360° Man, Blood & Water and Sky Fall at HMP Springhill and No Going Back at HMP Aylesbury.
ChairJim White is a long-serving newspaper reporter, author and broadcaster who has been involved in Kestrel for the past 15 years. He has been chair since 2009. A passionate advocate of improving educational opportunities within the criminal justice system, through observing Kestrel’s work at close quarters, he has been ever more convinced of the particular educative power of drama and film.
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.
André PtaszynskiAndré Ptaszynski produces musicals in the West End and around the world. He ran Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group for some years and still programmes his London theatres. He has spiced up the day job by combining it with being a promoter of many major comedians and producing some sitcoms for the BBC. He was on the board of the National Theatre for nine years.
Judith PtaszynskiJudith Ptaszynski has been a Samaritan and Samaritan-trainer for over twenty years. For most of that time she has also co-run the Samaritans’ Listening project in Bullingdon Prison. She trained and worked as a nurse at St. Bart’s Hospital before spending a lot of time bringing up four children.
Finance DirectorSimon Tennant is a qualified accountant and management consultant and is our Charity’s Finance Director. Over the last thirty years, as a Director at Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Partner at PA Consulting Group, he has worked with Clients across Industry and Government to change ways of working and improve financial performance.
Peter WatsonPeter Watson’s career spanned both private and public sectors, in marketing, information systems and fundraising. He worked for many years in higher education fundraising and alumni relations for the universities of Oxford and Warwick and latterly for Lady Margaret Hall, one of the Oxford Colleges, where was elected to an Emeritus Fellowship on his retirement.