We're delighted to release the first images of [BLANK] our new coproduction with the Donmar Warehouse.
[BLANK] written by Alice Birch is a heartbreaking new play which reaches across society to explore the impact of the criminal justice system on women and their families.
From 100 unnamed scenes, this theatrical provocation challenges the director Maria Aberg to construct an entirely unique production.
[BLANK] runs until 30 November and tickets from £10-£40 are available now.
Photography by Helen Maybanks
The 2019 revival of Chloë Moss’s Sweatbox will star three Clean Break Members - Funke Adeleke (On Missing, Cockpit Theatre) Jade Small (Sweatbox original cast member, Inside Bitch, Royal Court Theatre) and Posy Sterling (Belong, Arcola & Lyric Hammersmith).
From June onwards, Sweatbox will be touring the UK accompanied by a mobile exhibition created by artist Miriam Nabarro, celebrating 40 years of Clean Break’s work. For full tour dates and an opportunity to book, please visit the production page. Congratulations to our three Members who began rehearsals this week - break a leg!
Rebel Voices: Monologues for Women by Women celebrates the opportunities inherent when women represent themselves. Offering performers a diverse set of monologues reflecting a range of characters in age, ethnicity and lived experience, the material is drawn from a mix of published and unpublished works.
The anthology represents Clean Break’s past, present and future: with pieces from its early history by writers including co-founder Jacqueline Holborough; through the 80s, 90s and 00s including leading playwrights such as Bryony Lavery, Winsome Pinnock and Lucy Kirkwood; to its most current writers including Alice Birch and Natasha Marshall. It is edited by Clean Break’s Joint Artistic Director Róisín McBrinn and writer/producer/dramaturg Lauren Mooney, with an introduction by Lucy Perman MBE (Clean Break, Executive Director from 1997 – 2018).
To mark the release of the anthology, Clean Break hosts an evening of readings at the Donmar Warehouse on Sunday 12 May, performed by a cast including Daisy Bartle, Jackie Clune, Jacqueline Holborough, Michelle Greenidge, Jennifer Joseph, Martina Laird, Ann Mitchell, Danusia Samai, Unique Spencer, Lia Williams and Susan Wokoma.
Book your tickets to join us as we celebrate the words and stories of some incredible women HERE.
Indira Varma, Actor: ‘I fumed and laughed and cried. A rich, varied and timely anthology of monologues for Everywoman. Clean Break is giving actors of ALL ages, ethnicities and backgrounds an opportunity to shine.’
Zawe Ashton, Actor and Clean Break Patron: ‘Clean Break has an archive of incredible monologues for women; women whose voices aren't often heard and whose experience is rarely given this level of complexity and humanity... A special resource that I wish had been around when I was at drama school.’
Kathy Burke, Theatre Director: ‘Rebel Voices is a compelling anthology and a unique insight into a brilliant, ground-breaking theatre company.’
We’re delighted to announce that we have launched our very first podcast series! The mini -series has been created and recorded by Clean Break members and delves deeper into some of the main issues and themes from our co-production with Theatr Clwyd, Thick As Thieves.
The podcasts were created after a week’s intensive workshop which was hosted by digital artist and podcast producer Milly Chowles and theatre artist Rania Jumaily. During this week Clean Break members delved deeper into the issues which arose from Thick As Thieves and also learned recording and producing skills.
There are three episodes which follow the themes of Sisterhood, Damage and Blood each of which is comprised of poetry, personal writing, interviews and discussion. All episodes are now available for download using the links below.
LISTEN TO THE CLEAN BREAK PODCAST ON:
We are continuing our 40th anniversary celebrations with a second season featuring a Donmar Warehouse co-production, a Methuen Drama anthology of monologues, a production touring the UK in a prison van plus talks, events and workshops.
We've teamed up with the Donmar Warehouse to commission [BLANK] a striking new full-length play written by Alice Birch and directed by Maria Aberg which takes a kaleidoscopic view of what happens when a woman goes to prison. This production will run from Friday 11 October – Saturday 30 November 2019.
Clean Break celebrates 40 years of producing ground-breaking women writers and writing by its Members with this anthology of 40 monologues from 40 Clean Break voices.
To mark the release of the anthology, we will host an evening of readings highlighting the rich tapestry of Clean Break’s history of working with some of the most vibrant, daring women writers in British society, as performed by some of the UK’s most treasured women actors. The cast includes Jackie Clune, Michelle Greenidge, Jennifer Joseph, Ann Mitchell and Lia Williams.
We are delighted to announce that we will be reviving Sweatbox in our 40th year. Travelling across the UK, Chloë Moss’s Sweatbox invites you to enter the back of a prison van in which three women share their stories of arrival and anticipation as they are transported from court to prison, from prison to prison and from prison to court.
2019 is a landmark year for Clean Break as we celebrate 40 years of holding a megaphone up to the voices of marginalised women and making our mark on the theatrical world. At HighTide this year, we will share a special sneak peek at what’s in the pipeline for 2020 and beyond with a series of rehearsed readings from writers including Sonya Hale and Natasha Marshall.
To celebrate our 40th year we will be hosting various leadership events which interrogate women's position in the criminal justice system and the arts.
To kick off these leadership events we will be discussing activism, women and power with Southall Black Sisters. Dr Farah Karim-Cooper (Shakespeare’s Globe) will chair a panel which explores themes of justice facing women, the current context and the strategies both organisations have adopted to affect change and reclaim power.
We will then see Deborah Coles and Sonali Naik QC in conversation at Garden Court Chambers. This special event sees Sonali in conversation with Deborah Coles as she shares stories of her personal motivation and passion for human rights and justice, her journey within the legal profession and her reflections on the role that Clean Break has played in women’s lives that have been affected by the justice system.
We asked Paula Varjack to write us a short blog on her work on All The Lights Are On, Cardboard Citizens and Clean Break's multi-media provocation. It's the first time the two companies have created a piece of theatre together, and we're excited that Members from both companies have had the chance to work with an artist like Paula! Here's what she had to say:
"Over the course of this project I have been thinking a great deal about space. The space we feel belongs to us, the space we feel safe in, the space that some desperately need (that others take for granted) and the spaces we can come together to create.
Clean Break is normally a women’s only space. While Cardboard Citizens is not, during this project the rehearsal studio generally was. Working within both has made me reflect on why women’s only spaces matter, and how they can help amplify voices that are often unheard.
Over nine days I have had the great privilege of working with thirteen women who I had never met before, who mostly did not know one another. I have been driven by a desire to create a space for their stories; as honest, open hearted, and hilarious
as they were
In return, they honoured our process with an extraordinary amount of faith. Most have been asked to create in a way they never have before. The result reflects both the hope and uncertainty in the lives they have lived, and are still living. It is an amalgamation and interpretation of stories shared by them, devised in response to my prompts.
I was interested in working site specifically partly because it felt powerful to give women with a tenuous relationship housing a building to occupy, but also because I wanted to make it very clear, that the women whose stories you will witness are living lives in parallel to yours, in and amongst your own."
All The Lights Are On will be performed on Friday 15 March at Clean Break.
CB: I’m here with a couple of people from Belong, could you introduce yourselves and tell me how you are involved with the project?
S: My name is Serena, I am doing show support helping with voice coaching, I am currently studying voice at Central school of speech and drama, I am here on my placement and I’m really enjoying it.
Ca: My name is Carys, I co-wrote the play with River and I’m also playing Frankie.
CB: You’re having to condense your rehearsal process into quite a tight schedule, how is it feeling in the room right now?
Ca: There’s a really great atmosphere, everyone’s coming together. We’re telling the story in quite an ensemble way, which is really great because it means we are all on stage the whole time. Telling the story together as actors obviously people play different characters, but I think that aspect of it has really helped it to be a really great experience. I’ve worked with a couple of the women for a while, but then a couple I haven’t met before so I feel we really gel as a group and it’s really nice to meet some new Clean Break faces, it’s been amazing.
CB: With this piece you are investigating youth loneliness, what do you think you are uncovering about that?
Ca: We started researching this topic last year and we looked at lots of research that has shown that young people are more lonely than old people. A common misconception is that old people are the most lonely, yes they are lonely but in a different way to young people. So, I feel that this process has uncovered that young women are a lot more strong than people give them credit for. The women are all lonely for different reasons and have their own struggles but they all realise at the end through their hardships that they have strength to get themselves through stuff. That’s my big take away because I think often young women are given a bad rep.
S: I think from a voice perspective it’s really lovely to help the process in a sort of meta theatre way. Like the getting out and connecting the voice to the text, there are different accents in the show, different ages. So it’s a really lovely vibe and a really lovely process that I feel is really connected to the themes of the play.
Ca: Yes, because it’s all about connection really, they find connection at the end. Female connection, women with women. It’s been great to have such support from voice and tech, costumes, design and movement, all the different elements coming together.
CB: I’m very excited to see it, thank you so much for speaking to me.
We're delighted to report that Inside Bitch is proving to be a critical success!
We had this from The Stage:
***** "Inside Bitch grinds hard against the rigidity of the theatre landscape. And it is glorious in all its disruptive, chaotic, provocative, fourth-wall-poking energy."
and this from Time Out:
**** "an immaculately well-managed kind of laughter, and when the fun comes to a juddering halt, it winds you."
and this from Culture Whisper:
"a celebratory piece, bouncing from laugh-out-loud gags to tender, honest insights into what prison life has been like for these charismatic women"
and this from Lyn Gardner at StageDoor!
"gleefully explodes the preconceptions and stereotypes of popular culture... a snarky joy"
The reviews are still coming in, so we'll keep you posted if there are any other belters. In the meantime, there are still a few tickets left - what are you waiting for?!
We’re delighted to announce the creative team for our Royal Court Theatre co-production Inside Bitch. Conceived by Stacey Gregg and Deborah Pearson, the production is devised by Clean Break Members Lucy Edkins, Jennifer Joseph, TerriAnn Oudjar and Jade Small. Design is by Camilla Clarke (winner of the 2015 Linbury Prize for Stage Design), with lighting design by Natasha Chivers (recipient of an Olivier Award for Sunday in the Park with George), sound design by Ella Wahlström (DV8’s John), and choreography by Yassmin V Foster (Queens of Sheba). Milli Bhatia (Trainee Director at the Royal Court, with credits including Shine) is Assistant Director.
Created by women who aren’t guessing, Inside Bitch is a devised ensemble performance from Clean Break’s Members, a playful subversion of the representation of women in prison and how things aren’t quite as seen on TV.
"We’ve got the real shit, and trust me, it’s dark as fuck, and it will knock your socks off!”
The year opens with our first season under our new Artistic Directors, Anna Herrmann and Róisín McBrinn - featuring bold new plays, performances and projects created by ground-breaking artists, high profile partners and collaborators, and Clean Break Members.
"Forty years ago, two incredible women in prison set up Clean Break, believing theatre could bring the hidden stories of women to a wider audience. Over the last four decades, the company has remained true to this vision, changing women’s lives by providing opportunities, provoking conversation, and creating theatre of the highest calibre with the leading women theatre artists of the day. We are immensely proud to lead the company into its next chapter with a programme to launch our tenure that celebrates our legacy and signals a bold new future, with invaluable new relationships being forged and our Members at the heart of everything we do."
Our 40th Anniversary Spring Season will include:
A unique co-production with the Royal Court subverting media images of women in prison. Conceived by innovative theatre-makers Stacey Gregg and Deborah Pearson, devised and performed by Clean Break Members Lucy Edkins, Jennifer Joseph, Terri Ann Oudjar and Jade Small.
Belong is a new play by Brazen, Clean Break Young Artists as part of Arcola Creative/Disruption Festival. Examining how loneliness impacts on young women, their wellbeing, behaviours and choices, Belong is ultimately filled with hope about the power of community and connections to overcome difference.
Partnership with Cardboard Citizens
Cardboard Citizens and Clean Break join forces for the first time to explore the intersection between women’s experience of homelessness and the criminal justice system. Performance and video artist Paula Varjack and women Members from both theatre companies present a multi-media provocation asking what needs to change to improve the lives of women today.
Clean Break’s Rebel Voices
Clean Break celebrates 40 years of producing groundbreaking women writers and writing by our Members with this anthology of 40 monologues from 40 Clean Break voices. Including monologues by Alice Birch, Theresa Ikoko, Lucy Kirkwood, Bryonny Lavery and Winsome Pinnock this anthology, goes some way to embodying Clean Break's extraordinary canon and offers an exceptional resource for women actors of all ages.
Click here to find out more about Clean Break productions and events.
Rehearsals have begun for Thick As Thieves which opens at Theatr Clwyd on 11 October. Actors Siwan Morris and Polly Frame have joined the creative team in the roles of Karen and Gail as the production gets truly underway. The cast and crew will be rehearsing at Clean Break's London studios for a fortnight before a final week of rehearsals in Wales in advance of opening night. Break a leg to the whole team - we cannot wait to see the play on its feet!
Thick As Thieves will be performed at Theatr Clwyd, Salisbury Playhouse and Hull Truck: for full booking details please click here.
Clean Break is excited to announce Thick As Thieves.
This tense revealing play explores what it means to care for one another and asks who, in a time of increasing disconnect, we expect to look after us. Thick As Thieves reunites director Róisín McBrinn with playwright Katherine Chandler after the success of their acclaimed production Before It Rains.
This production is co-produced with Theatr Clywd and will be performed there 11-27 October. Watch this space for tour details!
Ticket sales for Thick As Thieves at Theatr Clywd go live 9 April and can be booked here.
Our young women’s theatre group, Brazen has created a podcast which looks at what it means to belong. Through a mixture of interviews, personal writing, performances and discussion, the Young Theatre Artists use the podcast to delve into the often tough subject of youth loneliness to discover how important it is to feel as if you belong to something bigger than yourself.
The Podcast was created in collaboration with the Roundhouse, who hosted an intensive day with their digital, online media and radio teams to create Belong. Through the process of creating the podcast Brazen aimed to learn about other young people’s experiences, help young people realise how common loneliness is, and get people talking.
The podcast was created as part of a project connected to the Youth Loneliness Network which was started and funded by The Co-operative Foundation, after their own research revealed that in 2016 32% of 16 to 24 year-olds reported to feel lonely ‘often’ or ‘always’. As part of the project the Young Theatre Artists have already spent an intensive week devising a theatre performance which looks at the effect of loneliness upon young people. They also took part in a series of workshops with tutor Anne Langford to develop a short performance piece which is to tour schools in order to raise awareness and initiate discussion around youth loneliness, this will then be followed by a 50 minute workshop in which attendees can further explore the subject of youth loneliness. The project will be rounded up by a panel event which will be devised and presented by Brazen and will look at their learning over the course of the project and celebrate their achievements.
To find out more about upcoming Clean Break projects sign up for our newsletter.
Clean Break are taking part in PROCESSIONS a mass participation artwork which celebrates 100 years since the Representation of the People Act, a bill which allowed some women to vote for the first time. Clean Break will be joining 100 organisations and communities who will create banners to celebrate the centenary.
As part of the march one hundred women artists have been commissioned to work with these groups and we are delighted to announce that we will be working with the brilliant and inventive Miriam Nabarro.
Miriam is a London based artist, theatre designer and photographer. Her theatre practice is often politically and socially engaged, including Palace of the End (Royal Exchange/ Traverse, Winner of the Amnesty International Freedom of Speech Award 2009), The Great Game: Afghanistan (with Pamela Howard) for The Tricycle/US tour, Dr Korczaks Example (Royal Exchange, Best Studio Production 2008), and most recently The Broke’n'Beat Collective and The Welcoming Party (both TheatreRites), and the critically acclaimed I Told My Mum I was Going on an RE Trip (Contact/ BAC/ 20 Stories High/ BBC Live), Black, She’s Leaving Home and Tales from the MP3 (all for 20 Stories High, where she is Associate Artist). Miriam has worked extensively as a community artist and aid worker, running creative arts programmes for children affected by conflict in DRC, Sudan, Eritrea, Kosova, Syria and Georgia. She is the first Artist in Residence at SOAS, University of London, and continues her practice as visual artist, theatre practitioner and educator.
PROCESSIONS takes place on 10th June and will see women and girls in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London walk together as part of this celebratory mass participation artwork. Wearing either green, white or violet, the colours of the suffrage movement, the PROCESSIONS will appear as a flowing river of colour through the city streets.
PROCESSIONS is commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary and produced by Artichoke. With support from the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund, and from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
We've so enjoyed working alongside The Donmar Warehouse at each stage of their fantastic, all-women, prison-set trilogy of Shakespeare. The productions star our patron, Dame Harriet Walter and feature performances from two graduates of our education programme, Jennifer Joseph and Sarah-Jane Dent.
In this final year of the trilogy, we're going one step further and collaborating with the Donmar on a side project. A group of young women will be working with both companies to explore the links between the lives of Shakespeare’s characters and the lives we live today, with a chance for everyone taking part to create a brand new piece of theatre by blending Shakespeare’s text with their own words. The programme will climax by giving students an opportunity to perform their own original work on the Donmar stage on 2 December!
We're excited to see the results of this fantastic project!
Clean Break was overwhelmed when the cast of Henry V at the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park decided to do something different with their cards and gifts money.
Two of Henry V’s leading actresses, Michelle Terry (playing Henry V) and Charlotte Cornwell (playing Chorus) are old friends of Clean Break and reached out to us to make a generous offer - that instead of buying the cast and company the usual first night cards and gifts, they would donate that money to us - raising about £400! They also invited a group of Clean Break students to come and meet the cast of Henry V to be presented with the cheque, and stay to see Monday night's performance. Our students were delighted to see this fantastic show!
Thank you again to everyone at Henry V and the Open Air Theatre!
The double bill was produced in association with The Yard Theatre and Clean Break are excited to continue this partnership with a run in their home theatre this September.
HOUSE by Somalia Seaton
Pat returns to her childhood home after a five year absence, ready to forgive her mother. But first she needs acknowledgement of the neglect she suffered at the hands of a woman who believed she was only ever following the teachings of her close-knit Nigerian church - and the word of God. Somalia Seaton’s HOUSE is an explosive new play about family, culture clashes, memory and truth.
AMONGST THE REEDS by Chino Odimba
Oni and Gillian have made their home in a disused office block, finding dangerous ways to stay hidden without the authorities catching up with them. But now Gillian is heavily pregnant and visibility might be the only way to give her baby a chance. Chino Odimba’s AMONGST THE REEDS follows two friends struggling in the shadows.