News by Andy Watson

Happy 35th Birthday

Andy Watson

Image: Geese in performance 2022 (top) / Geese in performance early 1990's (bottom)

The first ever rehearsal of Geese Theatre Company took place on 10th June 1987. 35 years on, we are still going strong. In that time the company has worked with thousands of people in the Criminal Justice System, in virtually every prison in the UK and developed innovative projects internationally in Australia, Azerbaijan, South Africa, Sweden, Ireland, the Netherlands and Bulgaria. Over the years we have employed well over 60 practitioners and administrative staff to deliver and support this work. Everyone of them has brought something unique to this work, advancing our practice and helping us refine and develop our methodology.

This work wouldn't be possible without the support of the commissioners, probation officers, prison Governors and staff from the many organisations we partner with,  who see the possibilities that theatre and the arts can bring to their institutions, their services, and the people they work with. We would like to thank all those who have taken the risk of using theatre in their settings. 

Using theatre in criminal justice settings can be demanding, but ultimately it is about the power of creating safe spaces in which people can encounter people: where people can be challenged, supported, pushed, find common ground, and explore differences; where people can explore their creativity on their own terms; where we are all able to rehearse different versions of ourselves without fear of failure. So, of course, we would like to thank all of the men and women who have stepped into the space with us and trusted us to make it safe, be that as audience member, participant or co-creator. 

We look forward to the next 35 years and the possibility of new partnerships, new projects and performances and many new encounters.

Conflict Zone - Reducing Parental Conflict

Andy Watson

Conflict Zone

A brand new training performance exploring the theme of Parental Conflict designed for social care, health, mental health and education professionals, police and others who work with children.







According to the Government, "there is strong evidence that conflict between parents – whether together or separated – can have a significant negative impact on children’s mental health and long-term life chances." This performance, originally commissioned by Birmingham Children's Trust and funded by the DWP, follows two fictional families and explores some of the issues which exacerbate parental conflict (financial worries, unemployment, COVID 19) and the differences between parental conflict and domestic abuse. The two contrasting stories powerfully depict the effects of destructive conflict on children, whether parents are living together or apart. The piece asks the audience to consider how professionals can help parents understand their children’s needs and manage conflict constructively.

Delivered during April and May 2022, the training has received amazing feedback:

I thought this was an excellent method of training. I have raved about it to my colleagues and told them they have to attend.”

“It was excellent, so believable. The pace was good, the way the different kinds of conflicts were featured was very thought provoking. Could really feel the experiences of the children and the different experiences even though in the same family. Performances were exceptional.”

"Very powerful training, which will have had an impact on all the professionals attending; a really creative way of putting this across and good to challenge social care professionals about the 'masks' we all where and the importance of being real and transparent"

“Innovative, different, fresh and informative. Loved that the 4th wall was removed and audience were able to get involved.”

If you would like more information about Conflict Zone or would like to book a performance for your team or event then please contact us: 

Black Lives Matter

Andy Watson

Geese Theatre Company works at the intersection of two systems: the arts and the criminal justice system.

We know that at every stage of the criminal justice system, from stop and search through to sentence length, Black people are disproportionately over-represented: Statistics on race in the CJS 2018  

We also know that Black people are under-represented amongst employees of National Portfolio Organisations, and even more so when it comes to leadership roles such as Chief Executive or Artistic Director:  ACE Equality and Diversity Statistics.

As an organisation one of our core values is a belief in change. Primarily when we talk about this value, we are referring to the potential for individuals to make changes in their own lives. However, we also acknowledge that there needs to be fundamental change within the systems in which we deliver our work and that we must be part of that change. If we are not part of that change then we are part of the problem.

Our Black practitioners experience specific challenges when working within the Criminal Justice System. At a prison gate waiting to begin a project and two white practitioners are waved through whilst the Black practitioner is subjected to a thorough search and suspicious glances. Or when our team are waiting to leave a prison after a day’s work and our Black colleague is told by an officer to join a queue of other prisoners – a situation which was resolved only when a white colleague intervened. We see our own team impacted by it, and we see the client groups we work with impacted by it. 

We will not to be silent; we will not to be complicit; we will challenge intolerance, prejudice, and racism.

One of the key principles which underpins our work is that of being reflective. At this moment it is imperative that as individuals and as an organisation we spend time reflecting on our own prejudices and privileges and deepen our commitment to educating ourselves, equipping ourselves with knowledge and understanding of the historical systemic and institutional racism designed to create and perpetuate inequality, so we can be a greater part of the change we need to see within the systems we work in, and wider society. 

Some useful resources:

On racism in the UK Criminal Justice System:

  • For anyone who considers that this is an issue in the USA and that it doesn’t apply in the UK then we would recommend taking a look at the 2017 Report of the Independent Review of Deaths and Serious Incidents in Police Custody and specifically chapter 5 which focuses on ethnicity. Amongst other key findings, the author of the report, Dame Elish Angiolini comments: “There is also evidence to suggest that dangerous restraint techniques and excessive force are disproportionately used on Black, Asian and minority ethnic people.”

  • For more information about the treatment of, and outcomes for, Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic individuals in the Criminal Justice System we highly recommend reading The Lammy Review. Although published in September 2017 many of the issues highlighted are still very relevant today and most of the recommendations still need to be acted on.
  • A more recent blog post by Nina Champion, Director of the Criminal Justice Alliance, in which she argues that more needs to be done following the Lammy Review, to rebuild trust in the CJS. 
  • A 2015 edition of Criminal Justice Matters, titled #BlackLivesMatter, contains a series of articles exploring a range of issues around the disproportionality of Black and Muslim men in the UK Criminal Justice System.

Resources for education on the issues:

  • Do the work - a website that includes things to listen to, read and watch to help educate on racism
  • A GoogleDocs document with ideas of ways to help (petitions, reading and education material, places to donate, ways to protest etc)

 Where to donate:

Film-making Residency in Forensic Mental Health

Andy Watson

Our team have just returned from a brilliant week working with staff and service users living and working in a medium secure hospital in Hertfordshire - We had been invited to work with the service users to facilitate an exploration of their experience of stigma with the ultimate aim of making a short film.

Feedback has been fantastic and we would like to thank the patients and the OT staff who worked alongside us during the week for their enthusiasm, ideas and commitment. Some staff comments include:

"Geese have given both staff and service users a brilliant week where we have all learnt so much."

"Service users identified that the experience has helped them grow as individuals and developed in confidence."

"The Geese team worked brilliantly with both staff and service users."

More information about our work in forensic mental health settings can be found here