Clean Break was set up in 1979 by two women prisoners who believed that theatre could bring the hidden stories of imprisoned women to a wider audience. Still the only women’s theatre company of its kind, Clean Break has remained true to these roots, and we continue to inspire playwrights and captivate audiences with our groundbreaking plays on the complex theme of women and crime. For further information on the early years of the company click here.
Our theatre-based education and training programme is integral to our ethos. For more than three decades, we have delivered high-quality theatre-based courses, awarded qualifications and offered specialist support, all of which are critical for the rehabilitation of women with experience of the criminal justice system. Run in prisons and from our women-only building in Kentish Town, our training and education programme helps participants to develop personal, social, professional and creative skills that often lead to education and employment.
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. Most women offenders have experienced male violence and are victims of crime, yet first-time women offenders are twice as likely as men to be sent to prison. Our vision is of a society where women are neither unjustly criminalised nor unnecessarily imprisoned, and we believe that theatre enables women to challenge their oppression by society in general and by the criminal justice system in particular.
Clean Break uses theatre to keep the subject of women in prison on the cultural radar, helping to reveal the damage caused by the failures of the criminal justice system. Through our unique repertory of new plays and our education programmes, 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.
Erin Gavaghan is an experienced executive arts manager who has worked within both new writing theatre and contemporary dance and choreography.
Erin comes to Clean Break from Siobhan Davies Dance, an artist-led interdisciplinary, contemporary arts organisation based in south London which advances the art-forms of dance and choreography. At Siobhan Davies Dance she held several roles, most recently as Executive Director (from 2014). Prior to working for Siobhan Davies Dance, 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.
Her experience has seen her manage mid-scale capital projects, implement organisational change, and lead income generation initiatives.
Erin’s voluntary work includes mentoring and serving as a Trustee for Deafinitely Theatre since 2012.
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 has been working in the field of theatre and social change for twenty seven years, specialising in theatre and education with marginalised groups in the UK and abroad. She has been with Clean Break since 2002 as the Head of Education, leading the company’s award winning work with women in the criminal justice system and women at risk of entering it. Anna is co-author of Making a Leap: Theatre of Empowerment: A Practical Handbook for Creative Drama Work with Young People (Jessica Kingsley Publishers). She has an MA in Arts Education from Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and a PG Cert (Distinction) in Race and Ethnic relations. She is a regular visiting lecturer on Applied Theatre courses at Universities across the Country and between 2006 and 2018 was a trustee of Leap Confronting Conflict; a UK based national charity specialising in youth and conflict. Anna sits on the Steering Group of the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance and is also a trained coach and regularly mentors artists in participatory settings.
Róisín McBrinn is a theatre director with over fifteen years experience working in the UK, Ireland and internationally. She has been with Clean Break since 2016 as the Head of Artistic Programme and during that time has directed Joanne (Soho Theatre and RSC) and House/Amongst The Reeds (Yard Theatre) for the company. She was formerly Associate Director at Sherman Cymru where she oversaw the commissioning and developing of new Welsh writing. Róisín has directed for the Donmar Warehouse (Noveccento), Sheffield Theatres (Afterplay), West Yorkshire Playhouse (Yerma), Prime Cut (Villa/Discurso), The Abbey Theatre (No Escape, Perve, Heartbreak House). She has developed new work for Soho Theatre, The National Theatre, The Bush, The Abbey and Sherman Theatre. This summer she is directing a stage adaptation of Roddy Doyle's The Snapper for Dublin's Gate Theatre.
In her role as Head of Operations, Khazana manages Building facilities, HR, our people strategy and business planning alongside the rest of the Senior Management Team. She has been passionate about working in the criminal justice sector since the publication of the Corston Report. She has worked as a co-ordinater for Education, Training and Employment projects and has managed both counselling and a peer advocate services in the past. She is delighted to have joined the Clean Break team.
Sabba works in the banking sector and has a particular interest in diversity and inclusion in finance. She currently holds the role of Senior Vice President for EMEA Tax Business Advisory at Citi.
Deborah Coles is Director of INQUEST and leads its strategic policy and legal work. She has considerable expertise of working to prevent the deaths and ill treatment of people in all forms of detention, and for more effective learning and accountability. She is consulted by government, parliamentarians, and other stakeholders at a national and international level. She is a regular media commentator and has advised on radio and TV documentaries and theatre productions. She is also a member of the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody and a trustee of the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize.
Kim Evans was an award-winning documentary filmmaker before becoming a senior executive at the BBC and then Arts Council England. Throughout her career she has been involved in arts projects that challenge perceptions and increase our understanding of each other’s lives. She now works in the cultural sector as a consultant and is a trustee of the National Portrait Gallery and a member of the Parole Board. Kim was awarded an OBE in 2007 for her services to the arts.
Doreen is the Director of Warwick Arts Centre. She is a Clore Fellow and an accredited coach (Performance Coach Training Ltd & Relational Dynamics 2009), and has over 20 years senior leadership experience gained working in the cultural and community development sectors.
Alice is a Strategic Consultant who works with philanthropists, charities and social enterprises. Alice chairs Clean Break’s Development Committee, and was named Young Board Member of the Year at the 2013 Arts in Business Awards.
Tanya has a wealth of experience working within the criminal justice and women's sector, having worked at Nacro, Women in Prison, Startup, User Voice and Nia with women experiencing domestic and sexual violence and using substances problematically. Currently, Tanya is working as a Recovery Practitioner for Young People at Cranstoun.
Despina Tsatsas is a theatre producer with experience in both the charitable and commercial theatre sectors and is currently Executive Director of the Young Vic. She is a Clore Fellow, a trustee of The Laura Case Trust and was a volunteer at Holloway Women's Prison until its closure.
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 Coordinator, at email@example.com or call 020 7482 8600.
"There is a positive energy about the place which makes it a lovely place to work."
Education Volunteer, February 2017