Every morning, when we wake up, we are faced with thousands of choices, but it's a privilege young Amir Hezareh has been denied.

The 29-year-old is three years into an eight-year stretch for drug dealing and is serving the remainder of his sentence at HMP Latchmere House, Richmond.

But Amir and 15 of his fellow inmates will be let out of jail next week, under supervision, to appear in a stage production of On The Waterfront at New Wimbledon Theatre.

The talented actor is playing Terry Malone, the lead role that won Marlon Brando his first Best Actor Oscar in 1954.

I saw a dress rehearsal of the production at Nescot College, in Ewell, last week and was honestly blown away by Amir's performance. So mature and free from inhibition, he was a natural.

It was evident that Amir had connected with Terry, a washed-up former boxer who was forced to take a dive by the mob in his only championship shot.

He uttered the famous line, I could have been a contender', with all the feeling of a man who had taken a wrong turn in life.

"I like how my character goes from being the tough guy to a nobody and then back to being the tough guy," said Amir.

"Marlon Brando's performance in the film was beautiful. Obviously, it would be great to be able to do it like him, but no one wants to go out and see another Marlon Brando they want to see someone original."

The central theme of On The Waterfront is Terry's inner conflict between his own self interests and moral responsibility.

His cousin, Johnny Friendly, runs the mob that controls the New York waterfront, stamping down on the dockers' unions and skimming profits while working-men and their families starve.

Terry is given special treatment in return for a few favours', but his conscience is pricked when he helps the mob murder Joey Doyle, who stood up for the dockers' rights. After Terry falls for Joey's grieving sister, Edie, he stands up to his mob family, but at what cost?

The prison production is the brainchild of Esther Baker, 36, director and founder of the Synergy Theatre Project.

Esther has more than 12 years' experience as a drama teacher in London prisons and has run Synergy for the past five years.

She believes prisoners deserve a second chance. Esther said: "If society doesn't do something to help them then the bad behaviour society has condemned them for will continue."

Someone else to have her eyes opened is Charity Wakefield, in her first Synergy role as Edie.

Charity revealed: "Esther was a bit worried as the play includes a romantic storyline between myself and Terry.

"She had previously avoided plays containing rom-ance because of the obvious potential difficulties, and there was a certain amount of sexual tension the first time I had to kiss Terry in rehearsals.

"I was nervous as I didn't know how Amir would react, but he handled it really well.

"The rest of the cast couldn't stop giggling. They were like a bunch of shy teenagers, but they were great to me."

The experience has encouraged the 24-year-old Charity to do more work in prisons.

She runs her own theatre company in South London and said she wouldn't hesitate to offer the more serious actors, like Amir, a job when they get out.

That is the aim of Synergy to give prisoners the confidence to aim higher.

Few will become actors, but Amir has the natural talent to make a career in theatre and plans to apply to RADA. He said: "I want to become an actor if I can."

On the Waterfront, New Wimbledon Studio Theatre, until November 19, from 7.45pm. Call 0870 060 6646 for more details.