Clean Break uses theatre to keep the subject of women in prison on the cultural radar, helping to reveal the damage caused by the criminal justice system. Through our unique work, we raise difficult questions, inspire debate, and help to effect profound and positive change in the lives of women with experience of the criminal justice system.
Since 1979, Clean Break has been the only women’s theatre company of its kind, and we continue to inspire playwrights and captivate audiences with our ground-breaking plays on the complex theme of women and criminalisation.
Through theatre workshops and projects in prisons and in the community which build confidence, resilience and wellbeing, we transform the lives of women who have experienced the criminal justice system or who are at risk of entering it due to the challenges they are facing, such as mental health or drug use issues, which place them in circumstances that make interaction with the criminal justice system difficult to avoid.
Our Members Programme is available to women aged 18 and above. The Programme offers a range of workshops and performance opportunities led by esteemed female theatre artists, underpinned by comprehensive support.
Clean Break’s women-only identity is crucial to our rationale. The treatment of women by the criminal justice system is one of the clearest demonstrations that our society is still unequal and that women are judged by different standards to men. Our vision is of a society where women can realise their full potential, free from criminalisation, and we believe that theatre enables women to challenge their oppression by society in general and by the criminal justice system in particular.
Find out more about Clean Break’s story in our digital timeline.
For a full list of research, articles, recorded events and documentary work on Clean Break click here.
Erin Gavaghan is an experienced executive arts manager who has worked within both new writing theatre and contemporary dance / choreography.
Erin has been Executive Director and joint CEO of Clean Break since October 2018. Previously at Siobhan Davies Dance, she held several roles; most recently as Executive Director (from 2014). Prior to that, she was the General Manager of Soho Theatre (2008-2012), having also followed a path of progression from Front of House Manager (2005-2007) and Deputy General Manager (2007-2008). Since moving to London from Canada in 2000, Erin has also worked at the Royal Albert Hall as the Stewards Administrator and Natural History Museum managing catering services.
Erin studied English Literature and Theatre (Directing) at the University of Victoria (Canada) and attained an MA in Arts Policy and Management from Birkbeck in 2005. She has a passion for life-long learning.
Anna Herrmann is Artistic Director of Clean Break. She has been working in the field of theatre and social change for over thirty years, specialising in theatre and participation in the UK and abroad. She joined Clean Break as Head of Education in 2002, becoming Joint Artistic Director/Joint CEO in 2018. With Clean Break she has directed Through This Mist (co-directed with Róisín McBrinn), Sweatbox (national tour and film), Not Pretty Like The Rainbow (national tour) and Catch (national tour). In July 2020 Anna was elected as Co-chair of the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance, stepping down in July 2022.
Jacqueline Stewart is Head of Participation and Deputy CEO of Clean Break. She has extensive experience in the fields of social care, therapeutic community work, youth sectors and local authority educational settings. Jaqueline’s work in youth offending revealed to her the pipeline of criminalisation experienced by disadvantaged young people and solidified her commitment to supporting people affected by the criminal justice system. It was through Jacqueline’s time studying for a creative degree that she developed her belief in the transformative power of the arts.
Jacqueline has worked at Clean Break for two decades, joining as Support Manager in 2003, and later moving into the role of Assistant Head of Education on our previous education programme. In 2018 she became Head of Participation on our current Members Programme, taking on the additional role of Interim Deputy CEO in 2022. She was confirmed as Deputy CEO from July 2023. Jacqueline passionately believes in the vison and values of Clean Break; she is a champion for social justice and anti-racism and strives to create new opportunities to enhance women’s life chances.
Deborah Coles is Director of INQUEST and leads its strategic policy and legal work. She has unrivalled expertise of working to prevent the deaths and ill treatment of people in all forms of detention, and for more effective investigations, learning and accountability. A passionate social justice campaigner she has campaigned around the issues arising from deaths of women in prison, calling for closure of women’s prisons and redirecting resources into community-based services. She is consulted by government, parliamentarians, and other stakeholders at a national and international level. She is an advisor to Clean Break and Women in Prison and on the Independent Advisory Panel On Deaths In Custody.
Emily Ashton graduated from University of Nottingham with a degree in Finance, Accounting and Management in 2013, then started working at Karcher UK in Retail Sales. Originally intended to be a short-term job, Emily enjoyed the work so much she stayed. Since then, Karcher has supported her in achieving her Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) qualification, and she has worked her way through the Finance team doing every role; before being promoted to Financial Controller in February 2021.
Alison is an advocate for the essential cultural value of the arts for all. From being Chair of the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance for six years, she believes especially that theatre making reveals the causes and consequences of criminalisation. She is a consultant in public health and returned to front line practice to work on the impact of Covid-19, including on domestic abuse. Throughout her career, Alison has fought for women’s rights with leadership roles working to tackle health inequalities. She is an experienced Director of Public Health having held posts in Bristol, Hampshire and London also working in the voluntary sector, as Chief Officer at the Brook Advisory Centres. She is currently public health lead researcher on a probation based mental health study at UCL. She writes on arts, health, and justice in the scientific, medical and general press most recently in a Fabian booklet on creating strong social justice systems for women.
Catriona is a specialist in revenue generation for arts venues. She is currently Commercial Director for Battersea Arts Centre and has previously worked at the Lyric Hammersmith, Chichester Festival Theatre and numerous West End venues. Alongside her pursuit of sustainable business models, Catriona has a particular interest in transformative theatre and spent a two-year career break with charity Theatre for a Change working with women and girls in Ghana and Malawi. She was also on the team that helped set up The Mono Box, a community and toolkit for emerging artists, and sat on its advisory board throughout its 10-year lifespan. She is delighted to be supporting Clean Break as a trustee.
Lara Grace Ilori studied BA (Hons) Acting at RADA (2020) and will complete an MSc in Social and Cultural Anthropology at UCL in 2023, researching decolonisation and cultural identity in Oyotunji African Village in South Carolina. Lara is a storyteller, wanting to share human experiences through various creative mediums. She is currently participating in the Soho Theatre Writers Lab, co-produces events under the title 'A Night With Lara and Caleb' with fellow actor and RADA graduate Caleb Obediah, and will be seen in new Channel 4 series Big Mood airing in 2023/2024. Lara first worked with Clean Break playing Munch in Typical Girls (2021), and hopes to contribute to the welcoming, championing environment she was met with when cast in her first professional stage job by the organisation.
Alison Jefferis is a senior corporate affairs and reputation management executive, with more than 30 years’ experience in the financial services sector. She has extensive experience in corporate philanthropy, including as Chair of Columbia Threadneedle Foundation for nine years. Alison chairs Clean Break’s Development Committee. She is also a Patron of children’s charity At The Bus.
Rania Jumaily has been a freelance theatre director and facilitator since graduating from Bristol University and Birkbeck College, and training as an Assistant Director at the Royal Exchange in Manchester.
Rose Mahon has been involved in developing trauma informed, gender responsive residential and community-based services for women since 2004. She has a track record of developing services to support and divert women away from the criminal justice system and developing projects to support women involved in survival sex. Rose is a passionate advocate for trauma-informed approaches and reflective practices. She was the recipient of the inaugural Howard League Criminal Justice Champion award in 2017.
Carien has held a range of leadership roles with organisations across the arts, voluntary and public sectors. Between 2006 and 2022, she was Chief Executive of Drake Music, a leading national organisation operating at the intersection of music, disability, and technology. Carien loves commissioning new work and collaborating with artists, thinkers, makers, and other creatives from across the globe and from all walks of life. She has co-created and spearheaded many national and international initiatives, including a long-term partnership with British Council Japan, Kawasaki City and Tokyo Symphony Orchestra.
Previously, Carien was Trustee of Westminster Mind and Chair at Independance. She is an Honorary Member of the Leaders Council of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Since October ’22, Carien has been working as a freelance Consultant in charity sector and is also undertaking a MRes Social Research & Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck University. She is passionate about social justice, equality, accessibility, and removing disabling barriers to arts and culture.
Winsome Pinnock’s stage plays include Rockets and Blue Lights (Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre) Glutathione (Young Vic Theatre) The Principles of Cartography (The Bush Theatre) Tituba (Hampstead Theatre) Cleaning Up (For Clean Break at Oval House Theatre), Taken (For Clean Break at Oval House Theatre) IDP (Tricycle Theatre) The Stowaway (Play for young people, Plymouth Theatre) One Under (Tricycle Theatre) Beg Borrow or Steal (Kuumba Community Arts Centre) Water (Tricycle Theatre) Mules (Royal Court Theatre Upstairs and Clean Break Theatre) Can you Keep a Secret? (Connections at Royal National Theatre) A Rock in Water (Royal Court Theatre) Leave Taking (Liverpool Playhouse Theatre, National Theatre, Belgrade Theatre Coventry and Lyric theatre, Hammersmith) A Heroes Welcome (Royal Court Theatre Upstairs) The Wind of Change (Half Moon Theatre) Picture Palace (Womens Theatre Group). Radio plays include Leave Taking (Radio 4) Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas (Adapted from autobiography by Maya Angelou for Radio 4) Clean Trade (Radio 4), Lazarus (Radio 3), Her Father’s Daughter (Radio 4) Let Them Call it Jazz (adapted from Jean Rhys’ short story, Radio 4) Indiana (adapted from novel by George Sand) The Dinner Party (Radio 4) Something Borrowed (Radio 4) and Water (Radio 4). She co-wrote the screenplay Bitter Harvest.
Awards include the Alfred Fagon Award (2018) George Devine Award; Pearson Plays on Stage Scheme best play of the year Award; Unity Trust Theatre Award. She received a special commendation from the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. She was Senior Visiting Fellow at Cambridge University and writer in residence at Holloway Prison, Clean Break Theatre Company, Royal Court Theatre, Kuumba Arts Community Centre, Tricycle Theatre, and The Royal National Theatre Studio. Her play Leave Taking received a major revival at the Bush Theatre, London in 2018 and a new version of One Under was produced by Graeae Theatre Company in 2019 for a UK tour. She is currently developing screenplays with the BBC and Kindle Entertainment.
During the 2020 lockdown Winsome Pinnock’s short play Una Calling was debuted online by The Globe Theatre as part of the Shakespeare and Race Festival. Her latest play Rockets and Blue Lights received the Alfred Fagon Award and was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 as part of the Lockdown Theatre Festival and received an OfComm Award for excellence as an online cultural experience and won an Offie award for best audio production in 2021. Winsome was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2020.
Amanda Richardson has been a Clean Break Member since 2012 and became a trustee in 2019. Amanda worked in the care sector before more recent customer service roles at The Koestler Trust and Southbank Centre, and volunteer work with projects at Talawa Theatre Company, The Place and Citizens Advice Bureau. As an actor, she has trained at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.
Alex is a creative producer of immersive and multi-disciplinary experiences, working with artists to create transformative experiences for audiences and strategic programmes. She is currently an Executive Producer at Marshmallow Laser Feast and prior to this was Senior Producer for Dreamachine, a multidisciplinary psychedelic artwork that toured the UK in 2022. She worked with Punchdrunk and Punchdrunk Enrichment for over 6 years as Producer and then Senior Producer, driving the development and delivery of projects for young audiences and communities. She is passionate about cross-sector collaboration and talent development.
Naima Sakande is currently working as a freelance charity consultant, specialising in women's rights advocacy. Before this, Naima was Deputy Director of the legal charity APPEAL, where she managed their Women’s Justice Initiative, specialising in case investigation for criminal appeals on behalf of women with histories of domestic abuse and mental illness. She has managed programmes for young women affected by gangs in London at the youth charity, Leap Confronting Conflict, as well as working on pre-trial criminal cases as an Investigator for The Bronx Defenders, an internationally renowned public defender office in New York City. She was previously Vice-Chair of Women in Prison and was a 2019 Griffins Society Fellow, conducting research on the barriers to appeal for women with the Institute of Criminology at Cambridge University. Naima has a B.A. in International Development from Yale University.
Jess began her career in the theatre, having studied Drama at Bristol University and then working as a costumier. Her passion for women’s justice was ignited by a role at Clean Break, from which she went on to work in policy, research and campaigns in the voluntary sector for fifteen years. She has held roles with organisations including the Howard League, Young Women’s Trust, Plan International UK and NACRO with a focus on campaigning for transformative systemic change for women and girls. Jess is currently Deputy CEO at Agenda Alliance, where she leads work to convene, strengthen and empower organisations to influence gender and trauma-responsive policy and practice for women and girls with multiple unmet needs. She has a Masters in Gender from the LSE, is a Griffins Society Fellow, a Trustee of Clinks (having previously been a trustee for Women’s Breakout) and volunteers with Opening Doors London.
Nola is leading the Criminal Justice Alliance’s pilot lived experience leadership programme, ELEVATE CJS. Nola has over ten years of management experience in the voluntary sector. She is a staunch advocate against racial inequalities within the criminal justice system and seeks policy reforms in rehabilitation specifically surrounding women who have been imprisoned. Nola is also a Trustee Women in Prison. She is completing a Sociology and Politics BA at Goldsmiths University and also produces and presents her podcast Beyond The Lens as a social commentator highlighting the issues affecting the African Diaspora.
Because our work is about highlighting women’s experiences and providing gender-specific services to women, all of our positions are open to women only (exempt under Equality Act 2010 Schedule 9, part 1).
Our team members are passionate about social and racial justice and about improving the lives of women with lived experience of the criminal justice system. We believe strongly in the power of theatre to transform lives.
We know that women’s careers take many different paths for all sorts of different reasons. We support and celebrate this. We strongly believe that your lived experience enhances what you bring to a professional setting, and we want women from a broad range of diverse backgrounds with a cross section of skills, experiences and narratives to extend and develop how we work.
Please see our current vacancies below, or sign up to our mailing list to find out when we are recruiting.
We’re always on the lookout for people to join our year-round Volunteer programme, which takes in everything from workshop skills and arts administration to catering and gardening. You’ll get the opportunity to develop your skills and confidence in a welcoming environment, while also learning more about the way we work. To find out more, come along to one of our regular Volunteer Days or email Samantha McNeil, our Volunteer Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7482 8600.