Theatre in prison

Unlock Drama has nine years’ experience in the criminal justice system, delivering in over 30 prisons, across adult male, female, sex offender and young offender institutions.

Unlock Drama’s issue-based theatre projects are linked closely to rehabilitation in the criminal justice system and focus on addressing dominant concerns within the prison estate. These issue-based projects are tailor-made to address subjects including:

  • Psychoactive substances awareness
  • Mental health
  • Violence reduction
  • Substance misuse
  • Gang culture
  • Debt
  • Weapon awareness

Using drama to tackle these issues can highlight the potential consequences of them, encouraging participants to examine the ripple effect of their actions and who can be affected by them. This can increase self-awareness, encouraging participants to reflect and develop their empathy skills, as well as to re-evaluate their behaviour, choices and consequences of actions.

  • "I learnt more about psychoactive substances and other people’s perspective on the substance."
  • "I feel more relaxed and a bit more confident in bringing my points across."
  • "People get bored of being told ‘not to do things’. This approach is more fun."
  • "I gained an ability to evaluate myself and my behaviour."

Unlock Drama also offers a Restoring Family Ties project project aimed at serving prisoners who are mothers, fathers, grandmothers or grandfathers. This project facilitates participants creating a child centred play for their families and children. At the end of the rehearsal period they perform the play for their families and children. This final product allows the mothers, fathers, grandmothers or grandfathers to give a positive experience to their families showing themselves in a new and creative light.

  • "It allows you to show another side of you to your children."
  • "I gained a more positive attitude; I am more confident and expressive."
  • "I am filled with enthusiasm after the course!"
  • "It is a good bonding session among peers and especially with partners and children!"

Theatre in the community

Unlock Drama delivers projects within the community with participants that have lived or at risk of offending/re-offending. Unlock Drama also facilitates projects with participants with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) and special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The projects aim to encourage participation, increase confidence, self-esteem, improve interpersonal skills and explore issue-based subjects to raise awareness with participants, targeted audiences and wider community.

Unlock Drama is always looking to deliver work within the community with hard-to-reach and marginalised groups; however, funding has always been an issue. Since becoming a Community Interest Company in 2020, Unlock Drama will certainly be looking at more ways to access funding enabling theatre to be delivered in the community.

Milton keynes ymca

Unlock Drama ran weekly drama drop in sessions for residents at Milton Keynes YMCA. Anyone could attend and we used to get a lovely mix of diverse participants ranging in ages from 18 all the way up to 60! Each week would have a different focus encouraging increasing confidence, self-esteem and interpersonal skills.

  • "I look forward to these sessions each week. I actually turn up and enjoy it."
  • "My confidence is growing. Thank you."
  • "The sessions are enjoyable and you get to know other residents, builds a community spirit."
  • "It brings so much laughter and improves my mood."

recharge telford

Unlock Drama delivered an issue-based project exploring the detrimental outcomes of substance misuse with a group of young people with lived experience of substance misuse. The final performance was written and developed by the participants guided by Unlock Drama facilitators. The performance was raw, hard-hitting and emotive. Their final product included music and was shown to two separate audiences, one targeted and one to working professionals from the local community. We hope to partner with Recharge Telford again.

  • "Massively helped me to build my confidence. Fear of performing – engaging with this helps. Still talking about same stuff in more active way – less depressing."
  • "Listening to positive criticism – helped me to get better at talking and not feeling silly."
  • "It helps you know that you can unlock your potential and anything is possible."
  • "We’ve been good at making crucial subjects important to the performance, so nothing is laughed at or forgotten. You can get all the necessary info and discussions that you need but you're sheltered from harm and be able to express myself and tell my story in a safe place."

Positive Community Care Limited

Unlock Drama ran weekly drop-in sessions for residents with social, emotional and mental health issues as well as special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Due to the complex needs of the participants, some of whom were nonverbal, Unlock Drama facilitators ran sensory workshops exploring: smells, textures, imagination, sounds, movement etc. Each week would centre around a specific theme such as: seaside, nature and transport. Participants showed improved confidence, communication, engagement and focus. It was a pleasure to see the participants grow.

  • "I find the sessions really relaxing and they make me feel more calm."
  • "I feel more confident."
  • "I felt like I actually was on a train."
  • "My mood has improved."

Theatre with young people

Unlock Drama is driven to making a difference to the lives of young people across our communities. Our specialist drama facilitators have an array of experience working with young people in multiple settings including:

  • Young Offender Institutes
  • Care Facilities
  • Youth Centres
  • Young people at risk of offending
  • Young people excluded from mainstream education

Our aim is to work with young people whom deem to be at risk of offending by: increasing confidence/self-esteem, improving interpersonal skills, wellbeing/mental health and exploring current issue-based topics that have a negative impact upon our young people such as Gang Culture, Violence Reduction or Substance Misuse. Our flexible approach enables us to work collaboratively with you and your young people. We can tailor-make projects to fit any given topic and time-frame. Our facilitators reflect and amend workshops to ensure all young people can thrive and unlock their potential at every given opportunity.

Young people’s feedback includes:

  • "It can help rehabilitate because it makes you see things from other people’s perspectives: police, parents etc which I haven’t considered before." - HMYOI Aylesbury
  • "The project has helped me to develop my team-working skills. It has been really fun! It has taught me to have more patience with others." - HMPYOI Swinfen Hall
  • "Made me feel more comfortable around people I don’t know. I’ve gained confidence and I’ve got out of the cell, which has helped my mental health." - HMPYOI Brinsford

theatre in schools

Does your school want to try a different approach to bring young people together? Improve interpersonal skills, confidence, wellbeing, mental health and more? With our flexible working approaches we can develop workshops tailored to your school and young peoples need. Our approach is inclusive and sustainable we endeavour to help young people to better engage within each school to help improve not only their school experience but also help the teachers and better the school environment as a whole for everyone.

We work with:

  • Pupil Referral Units
  • Academies
  • SEND
  • SEMH
  • Primary
  • Secondary
  • LD
  • SLD

We can offer half day workshops, full day workshops or full-week workshops. Unlock Drama can run projects for staff/teachers on training days to help improve wellbeing, moral and get everyone working together as a team.Interested in working with us? Please get in touch:

Young People and Teacher feedback:

  • "Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity. Your team were fantastic and the students really enjoyed the workshop. I have never seen some of these students so engaged before." - Principle, Park Academy West London
  • "I have more faith in myself to do stuff, Student." - Park Academy West London
  • "I’ve become more respectful to others." - Student, Park Academy West London
  • "I’ve learnt how to work with people I don’t know." - Student, Park Academy West London
  • "I think it’s the confidence that’s it’s given the students and the teamwork. Hopefully they’ll take this back into the school." - Teacher, Park Academy West London
  • "It’s amazing to see how well they listen to you guys and how focused they all are." - Teacher, Park Academy West London
  • "Yes, I would [recommend this to other schools] because I feel like it can get a lot of children out of their shell. Even me, I wish I’d had something like this in school. It gives them the chance to be themselves and explore their personalities a bit more." - Teacher, Young People’s Academy, Hillingdon
  • "They had issues before, they’ve actually worked together brilliantly." - Teacher, Young People’s Academy, Hillingdon
  • "The fact that they come back, commitment. You can normally get them to do something one time. I haven’t even had to ask some to come back. Less disruptive behaviour around the school because they’re here." - Teacher, Young People’s Academy, Hillingdon
  • "[My favourite moment from the project was…] The scenes on the final day." - Student, Young People’s Academy, Hillingdon
  • "Fun and enjoyable." - Student, Young People’s Academy, Hillingdon
  • "I can express stuff more because I don’t open up ever." - Student, The Skills Hub, Hilingdon
  • "I believe in myself more." - Student, The Skills Hub, Hillingdon
  • "More confident. I didn’t know I was good at drama." - Student, The Skills Hub, Hillingdon
  • "I’m good at sitting down in one spot for longer." - Student, The Skills Hub, Hillingdon
  • "When asked if they would do a drama project again and why, one participant said Yeah, if I had time it helps with self-esteem talking in front of people." - Student, The Skills Hub, Hillingdon
  • "Yeah definitely recommend it, to similar schools. I think it’s a case of broadening curriculum and self-regulating their behaviour in a less controlled setting." - Teacher, The Skills Hub, Hillingdon
  • "Yes I’d recommend it, it's fun. You keep the kids (at risk children) entertained." - Teacher, The Skills Hub, Hillingdon
  • "Yeah definitely recommend, I think you lot start with interactive things is not tailored to a specific, so it works for introverted individuals." - Teacher, The Skills Hub, Hillingdon

Placement Hosting

Unlock Drama have an established partnership with The Royal Central Speech of Drama and host BA DATE (Drama, Applied Theatre and Education) professional placement students and MA Applied Theatre students. In 2019 Unlock Drama began a partnership with Unlocked Graduates hosting training Prison Officers. We have found this collaboration beneficial to Unlock Drama staff, participants and the Prison Officers themselves.

  • "I was encouraged to use my own experiences in both drama and my prison officer role to help shape the productions, and had a lot of fun joining in and facilitating some of the warm-up games."
  • "Working with Unlock Drama was a fantastic experience. Rebecca, Charley and Beth were so helpful and supportive, and I would like to thank them hugely for giving me the opportunity to see a different side of the prison experience whilst having loads of fun on the way!"

Rebecca Boden has hosted placement students since 2012. Unlock Drama always works hard to take on as many placement students as possible giving them access to hands-on experience by offering on-site theatre in prison co-facilitation opportunities. Students find our placements invaluable and very rewarding.

  • "Helped develop my skills as a drama facilitator"
  • "Enabled me to grow in confidence when delivering theatre in prison."
  • "It was beneficial to be able to apply my academic work on-site"
  • "I found this placement rewarding and enjoyable."
  • "Rebecca invests a lot of her time ensuring you feel supported and valued at all times."

visiting lecturer

Rebecca Boden delivers yearly lectures at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (RCSSD) to their Applied Theatre students and Loughborough University for the Theatre in Education students. Rebecca is alumni from both universities and enjoys going back and sharing her knowledge to benefit student’s progression within the field of Applied Theatre.

Lectures include:

  • Rebecca’s Applied Theatre journey
  • Setting up Unlock Drama
  • Managing challenging behaviour
  • Workshop layering
  • Live role-play scenarios

During COVID-19 lockdown Rebecca has delivered zoom lectures to students at RCSSD.

Rebecca has also been a visiting lecturer for Applied Theatre students at Leeds University and is always looking for new Universities to connect with.

  • "This lecture has made me feel motivated. I feel like I now have a plan."
  • "This lecture brought hope to me."
  • "I appreciate your honesty and sharing challenging times with us."
  • "I enjoyed the live role-play scenarios it made me feel more confident."
  • "Thank you for sharing all your experiences and knowledge, I learnt a lot!!"