Five Strategies for Resisting Darkness — Clean Break



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An illustration of 5 magical women in the clouds

Five Strategies for Resisting Darkness

The cast and creatives behind the audio adaptation of A Proposal for Resisting Darkness share their personal tools for resisting darkness

Our magical audio play A Proposal for Resisting Darkness was created by a group of women in HMP Downview, with playwright Yasmin Joseph. The play was developed during a series of workshops in the prison, where the company shared their personal strategies for resisting darkness - self love, creativity, nature and empathy.

These strategies became the central focus of a fantastical play, first performed inside the prison and then adapted into an audio play with National Prison Radio and a cast of Clean Break artists.

Inspired by HMP Downview Theatre Company’s honesty and generosity in sharing their recipe for resilience, we asked the team behind the audio adaptation to now share their own strategies for resisting darkness.

Tapping into hope

I feel like the need to resist darkness as a daily life skill has become more and more urgent in the current global times we are living in, and although this feels quite a bleak perspective, it also means that I am practicing the tools daily, and with practice comes ability!

For me, it is about tapping into my purpose and connecting to a deep sense of hope and optimism, which I do have but can lose sight of. Taking a moment out of the busy-ness to ground myself – breathe deeply, connect with someone, listen to music, look at photos on my phone of people I love.

Working at Clean Break helps with this optimism as I am surrounded by women offering each other support and kindness and striving hard to make personal and social change. I just need to step into our Green Room and chat with someone there, find a moment of joy and reconnect to the potential and strength that is evident in everyone here.

I am also quite good at blocking out negative self-talk – the voice that tells me ‘it's too much, too hard, and I’m not making a difference’. It is important to quiet the internal critic – she exists, but I know not to listen too often!

Anna Herrmann, Director and Artistic Director of Clean Break


I know it’s not for everyone, but I love running and find it helps me enormously. Sometimes it seems like the last thing I want to do when I’m feeling bleak and have low energy, but if I can get myself out the door it always works to lift my mood. And if a run won’t do it, a walk is just a good.

I don’t look at all sporty, wearing the most mismatched and tatty old top and bottoms, but when I put my headphones in and a wooly hat on, I feel I can take on the world! It can take a while to work it’s magic but after 10 or 15 minutes, I realise I am noticing the clouds again, dogs running in the park or the leaves on the trees, and realise I’ve changed the pattern of my thoughts.  Even if this only lasts a short while, it reminds me I can think and feel differently, and that helps a lot.

Polly Frame, cast member

Getting outdoors

For me it's getting fresh air. Choosing to take the kids to school on the bike over the car, and getting out with the dog. If I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed or anxious, I always feel better after getting out of the house, which is obviously a privilege to have the freedom to be able to do. I also find doing this before starting work is a massive mood booster.

Before I had my first child in 2019, I would walk, scoot or use public transport to get to work every day. When I came back from maternity leave it was 2020, so, like many people, I was working from home every day, which I’ve continued to do.  

It took me a while to realise that the biggest thing affecting my mental health, other than the uncertainty of the pandemic, was not having that time before work to prepare and after work to decompress - away from screens and talking to other people, just some headspace outside. On days where I am in a rush and drive the kids to school and nursery, and just land at my desk for a full day at work after a chaotic and rushed morning, I'm frazzled all day, whereas if I just take just ten or fifteen minutes outside, I feel much brighter.

Perri Hurley, National Prison Radio Producer

Spending time with pets

My other strategy for resisting darkness is to just stop and gaze at my cat. I used to not be very good at sitting still, but since she came into my life, I’ve improved.  To me, she is the most floofy, beautiful and precious cat in the world and I often feel pretty overwhelmed by how much I love her!

Sometimes, if I just stop and look at her or stroke her ridiculously soft fur, whatever I am anxious about seems less. I know she doesn’t care about a thing other than her biscuits and a good nap, and thinking about that always works to simplify things for me in that moment!

Polly Frame, cast member

Riding out the darkness

It's in the post. 
I feel it's heaviness around me bringing me down. 
The fear is intense as I know the depth the darkness brings me. 
I do my best to resist it. 
Get busy. 
Spend money 
Fall in love 
What ever works at the time.

I've learnt not to resist darkness. 
I've learnt to accept it 
I've learnt to ride it like a wave. 
It passes eventually 
Then the process starts again. 
I see you darkness. 
My light is more powerful 
So let's see who can shine the brightest.

Terriann Oudjar, cast member

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A Proposal for Resisting Darkness

An illustration of 6 magical women in the clouds, with the title 'A proposal for resisting darkness by Yasmin Joseph in collaboration with HMP Downview theatre company'
A Clean Break audio play, by Yasmin Joseph and HMP Downview Theatre Company

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