2019 at Clean Break - Celebrating our 40th Anniversary year

Our leadership team have come together to celebrate all of Clean Break's achievements in our 40th anniversary year.

What a year 2019 has been! In case you didn’t know, CLEAN BREAK TURNED 40 THIS YEAR and we did all we could to make more noise than ever before, reach more audiences, find ways for our Members to take up more space, use their voices and to make great art that forefronts their lives, while also trying to change the dismal circumstances around women and criminal justice.

We kicked off with Inside Bitch, our co-production at the Royal Court co-conceived by Stacey Gregg and Deborah Pearson and devised with Lucy Edkins, Jen Joseph, TerriAnn Oudjar and Jade Small. This was a particularly important production for us, signalling the realisation of our renewed vision to place our Members at the heart of all our work. Then we took to the road with Sweatbox by Chloë Moss which took place in a decommissioned prison van and toured around the country. The van was also the venue for a beautiful installation by artist, Miriam Nabarro, using archival materials as part of our Heritage Project. There will be more chances to catch both in 2020…

We ended the year with our largest ever production, co-producing [BLANK] by Alice Birch with the Donmar Warehouse, directed by Maria Aberg. Beyond multiple rave reviews, we are proud to say that this production alone reached over 14,000 audience members.

We also produced Belong written by Members, River and Carys Wright, directed by Anne Langford and performed by our Young Artists at Arcola Theatre and Lyric, Hammersmith, as well as our first ever collaboration with Cardboard Citizens and performance artist Paula Varjack culminating in an original site-specific performance All the Lights Are On, at our Kentish Town studios. Another opportunity to see our Members take to the stage happened when a group of our Members formed the community cast in Shakespeare’s Globe’s production of Merry Wives of Windsor. Two of our Members had their new plays showcased at the Bunker in October; watch this space for these plays’ future lives!

We launched our monologue book, Rebel Voices at Donmar Warehouse in May with a group of 12 amazing actors including our founder, Jacqueline Holborough. This was one of four chances to hear from our Founders across the year – the others included at Shakespeare’s Globe, alongside Southall Black Sisters founders and directors, sharing reflections on women, activism and power since both companies began. And there was Here. There. Then. Now. in September, again at Royal Court, where we were privileged to be joined by nine of our past, current and future writers.

We also ran workshops at HMPs Downview and New Hall, launched training days for emerging artists and theatre makers at our studios and continued delivering workshops at four women’s centres across London. And we were delighted to be part of #FlytheFlag with our talk at Garden Court Chambers with Clean Break Patron and QC Sonali Naik, and Trustee Deborah Coles.

It’s been a special one which has only been possible due to the remarkable support of our partners, funders, Trustees, Patrons, volunteers and our phenomenal staff team who every day demonstrate their belief in theatre and their commitment to social justice. And of course due to all the amazing theatre artists, writers and creatives we have worked with – you are inspiring - and to our Members, who share their strength, vulnerability, ambition and potential every day in the face of adversity.

We want to thank all of you across the board for being part of our year of celebration and for showing us an unparalleled amount of good will and generosity. Our attention now turns to the year ahead. We are stepping into a new decade with an invitation to #ImagineAnotherWay. We believe it is vital in the current times of uncertainty for us all to hold on to hope and use the power of our imaginations to vision the world we want to live in. Please join us in this endeavour and make change possible.

With many warm wishes

Anna, Erin and Róisín.