Rideout was originally founded as a partnership in 1999 by Saul Hewish and Chris Johnston. In 2003 this partnership was dissolved in favour of taking the more formal status of a Company Limited by Guarantee and a Registered Charity. Saul and Chris ran the company jointly until Chris' untimely death early in 2017. Saul is now the company's sole chief executive and artistic director.


Saul Hewish was a founder member and former Director of Geese Theatre Company (UK) between 1987 and 1994. Geese UK was established as a franchise of the highly successful Geese Theatre USA with a remit to develop performances, workshops and residencies for prisoners and ex-offenders. Saul was instrumental in the development of a number of long-term partnerships with the Probation Service in which drama was used as the key methodology for challenging and dealing with offending behaviour. In 1994 he left the UK for America where he spent a couple of years working exclusively with Geese USA and its founder and director, John Bergman, MA, RDT/MT.

Upon retuning to the UK in 1996 Saul began working under the name Acting Out Company, developing drama-based projects and programmes for young people looked after by local authorities, children and young people with social and emotional difficulties (SMEH), and young people subject to supervision by Youth Offending Services. In addition to running Rideout, he is a principal session tutor at the Universities of Warwick and Birmingham where he teaches courses on Theatre in the Community and Applied Theatre respectively.

He is a co-author with John Bergman of Challenging Experience: An Experiential Approach to the Treatment of Serious Offenders, published by Wood 'n' Barnes in 2004.

Chris Johnston was the founder and Director of Insight Arts Trust between 1989 and 1999. Insight was established to work with the Probation Service in the London area and to run events and projects for those on probation. It extended its work over this period to develop a theatre company, Insight Theatre, which took a number of plays featuring ex-offenders in the cast, into prisons and arts centres. The company also worked in Europe with a range of other organisations in a project funded under the Leonardo Scheme by the European Union and presented a series of installations and exhibitions in London.

Chris authored a number of books significant in the field of community-based theatre.

  • House of Games: Making Theatre from Everyday Life, (Nick Hern Books, 1998)
  • The Improvisation Game, (Nick Hern Books, 2006)
  • Drama Games For Those Who Like To Say No (Nick Hern Books, 2010)
  • Disobedient Theatre (Bloomsbury Press, 2017)

He was also Director of Fluxx, the improvisation company, and Co-Director of Livestock, a company exploring issues of mental health and well-being.

In 2005, Saul and Chris were recipients of a Butler Trust Certificate Award. The Butler Trust is a national charity which identifies and celebrates the achievements of people who work in the UK criminal justice system who have shown exceptional skill or initiative in their work with offenders.

Rideout's work has always been supported by a highly talented pool of experienced freelance practitioners with whom they work on an 'as needs' basis. These currently include:

  • Emily Andrews (performer and drama facilitator)
  • Sarah Bartley (drama facilitator)
  • Fateha Begum (drama facilitator)
  • Tony Cealy (performer and drama facilitator)
  • Jon Ford (Sculptor)
  • Bharti Patel (actor and drama facilitator)

The company is governed by a Board of Directors that includes individuals from the worlds of community arts, prison, social care, and arts administration.