VOICES INSIDE is an inspirational inmate writing and theater program at Northpoint Training Center, a medium security prison near Danville, KY that uses theater arts and creative thinking to increase communication skills, build self-esteem and humanize and enrich the lives of those closed off behind bars.

The 2022 Voices Inside Play Festival (link it to it’s web page) is scheduled to take place this spring at Theaterlab in NYC, but we are experiencing delay due to Covid Pandemic.  Stay tuned for an update and an amended schedule.


The 2022 Voices Inside Play Festival is scheduled to take place this spring at Theaterlab in NYC, but we are experiencing delay due to Covid Pandemic.  Stay tuned for an update and an amended schedule.

I believe this class is art. With art in our lives it allows us to be creative, which opens doors to see what is going on inside of us.”
— Nicklaus, inmate 134419

Voices Inside is supported by generous grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Nathan Cummings Foundation.

National Endowment for the Arts logo

Special Thanks to the Nancy Friday Foundation.

Theater arts have been proven to enhance reintegration into society and reduce recidivism. So point-in-fact, this program serves us all.


VOICES INSIDE encourages the incarcerated…
  • To develop empathy, compassion and trust, and to nurture a desire to help others.
  • To develop self-esteem and develop a positive self image.
  • To take responsibility for life choices, for the crimes committed, for mistakes made.
  • To relate universal themes in drama and comedy to the lives of those served, including bringing past experiences, choices and future possibilities into the act of expression.
  • To speak the truth.
  • To develop literacy and communication skills, and to develop an appreciation for creative self-expression, including reaching out to include those participant  who have disabilities or come from an environment that did not promote  positive self-expression.

The Program


Each summer Pioneer Playhouse brings professional actors into the prison yard to stage a classic play for the general inmate population at Northpoint. Past productions include Moliere’s Tartuffe, Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew and Mark Twain’s Is he Dead.

“Tartuffe took me away from being here for two hours,

I loved it.”

–Comment from inmate in the talk back.


Playwriting workshops are held year-round for inmates drawn to self-expression through the creative writing.  The emphasis of these one-on-one workshops is to focus on the process of turning each inmate’s personal journey into a scripted, communicated narrative.

At the end of each summer, the playwriting class work concludes with a performance presentation of rehearsed plays and scenes staged by participating inmates for the general prison population and an invited guest public. Participants in this program, many of who never graduated high school, experience the exhilaration and self-esteem building of “putting on a show.”  Emphasis is placed on exploring the creative process, not necessarily the final result.

Voices Inside incarcerated writers have won the Pen Award for Best Inmate Drama in America, and have had their work performed on New York stages and at Actor’s Theatre of Louisville.


VOICES INSIDE is an outreach program of Pioneer Playhouse a summer repertory theater now in its 71st season that strives to be a leading regional arts complex, school of drama and theater, dedicated to fostering creativity and self-expression in actor, student and audience alike, in order to expand the human spirit.

In the summer of 2010, Curt L. Tofteland, Shakespeare Behind Bars Producing Director, partnered with producer/playwright Robby Henson, Robby’s sister Holly Henson, (Artistic Director, Pioneer Playhouse), and playwright Elizabeth Orndorff to begin a new 10-minute playwriting program funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) at the Northpoint Training Center in Burgin, Kentucky.

“This program represents what the whole penitentiary system should emulate: individuals who interact with inmates as adults and sincerely seek to encourage inmates to find within themselves that which will not only produce beautiful creativity but positive benefits for all of society – inside and out.”
–Steven Bond, inmate


Voices Inside
c/o Pioneer Playhouse
840 Stanford Road
Danville, KY 40422
(859) 236-2747