headshots of the cast of favour on a pink background

Clean Break and Bush Theatre announce casting for Favour

We are excited to introduce you to the cast of Favour by Ambreen Razia, at the Bush Theatre.

Co-Directed by Clean Break’s Joint Artistic Director Róisín McBrinn (Typical Girls, Sheffield Theatres) and Sophie Dillion-Moniram (POT, Rua Arts), full casting includes Renu Brindle (Margaret D'Anjou, LAMDA), Rina Fatania (NW Trilogy, Kiln Theatre), Avita Jay (The Comedy of Errors, RSC) and Ashna Rabheru (The Animal Kingdom, Hampstead Theatre).

‘There’s going to be some changes round here, sugar and TV allowed whenever you want’

From writer Ambreen Razia (Diary of a Hounslow Girl), Favour is a touching and hopeful family drama that tackles duty, addiction and the battle of putting yourself back together.

Leila is happy living at home with Noor, her loving but traditional grandmother. When Aleena, her fiercely independent mother, returns home from prison determined to deliver a new world of fun and excitement, their calm lives are upended in a blur of nail varnish and sweet treats. Family secrets come tumbling into the light, and Leila finds deciding on her future more difficult than she first thought.

Favour is a strikingly frank story of a working-class Muslim family in a way you’ve never seen before on stage.

Co-directors Róisín McBrinn and Sophie Dillon-Moniram: “We are thrilled to be working with such an extraordinary group of talented women, to tell this important story of four women whose lives are touched by imprisonment. We can't wait to collaborate with them to embody Ambreen’s magnificent script, exploring realities which are often untold.”

Favour will be at the Bush Theatre from 24 June to 6 August, including relaxed, captioned, BSL and audio-described performances, as part of their 50th anniversary season. Tickets are available from bushtheatre.co.uk or at the Box Office on 020 8743 5050.

Creative team

Ambreen Razia - Writer
Róisín McBrinn - Co-Director
Sophie Dillon Moniram - Co-Director
Sonum Batra - Sound Designer
Hester Blindell - Assistant Stage Manager
Sally Ferguson - Lighting Designer
Kat Heath - Design Mentor
Tabitha Piggott - Production Manager
Vicky Richardson - Casting Director CDG
Gemma Scott - Stage Manager
Sabia Smith - Costume Supervisor
Liz Whitbread - Set and Costume Designer
Dezh Zhelyazkova - Producer

Read the full press release.

tags : Productions
a photo of Sarah Cowan looking straight at the camera with 'fragile' tape over hear mouth, she is holding 2 fingers up with both hands.

Lara: A Short Film for Mental Health Awareness Week

This Mental Health Awareness Week we’re sharing Lara, a short film created by Clean Break Member Artist Sarah Cowan and artist Deborah Bruce, available to stream for one week only.

The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is isolation. The lockdowns of the past two years have brought this to the forefront of more people’s consciousness, and for the many people who isolation was already a part of life, the affects were amplified. For women in prison or other secure settings, isolation was and continues to be devastating, with the effects also felt sharply for women in the community who already experience mental ill health.

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week this year, we are sharing Lara to watch online until Tuesday 17 May. This short film was created by Clean Break Member Artist Sarah Cowan and artist Deborah Bruce in the first lockdown, as part of Clean Break’s 2 Meters Apart project, and follows a woman who has experienced complex mental health distress.

2 Meters Apart was set up during the first lockdown to give our Members, women with experience of the criminal justice system or at risk of entering it, a creative outlet and an opportunity for connection during an extremely isolating time.

Content Warnings and Self-Care Guide

Some of the themes in the film might be difficult to engage with, particularly if you are personally affected. For this reason, we have created a self-care guide containing content warnings, which we would recommend you read before watching the film.

Watch Lara

Available online until Tuesday 17 May.

Sarah Cowan shares her experience of making Lara and explores the themes of the film:

Deborah Bruce and I started writing together for 2 Meters Apart at the very beginning of the pandemic. All we were given is the title, with no pressure or expectation of a result - we didn’t even know at that point if theatre would ever exist again. We wrote over Zoom, email and WhatsApp, and all of the filming was done on our phones.

2 Meters Apart offered a creative haven in which we could share experiences and reflect on the state of the terrifying world around us in the height of the pandemic.

Creative collaborations definitely reduce feelings of isolation because you connect and work together in such a unique way. Consistency and feeling safe are important too, which, like the writing groups at Clean Break, made it feel like a port in a storm. It gave me a focus when everything was so uncertain, and support and encouragement to try and find my voice and keep going. I believe nurturing human connections through creativity and storytelling is valuable to everyone's mental health and understanding one another is vital to society. Because, when the world falls apart around us, all we have is each other, and no woman is an island.

So, Lara was made during lockdown, a time when the world seemed unreal and frightening when we were kept in our homes and away from loved ones, where conspiracy theories were rife, and relationships were strained in pressure-cooker environments. Some of the things Lara lives with on a daily basis.

Lara is the story of someone who struggles to cope with her experience of the world, her thoughts, her feelings, and her relationships. She finds it impossible to manage and communicate her distress and has become enmeshed within the mental health and criminal justice systems.

The inherent trauma caused by living in theses environments and persistent systemic failings, along with inadequate support, keep her trapped in a cycle of destruction. At this point in her story, she has to move in with her mother after being released from a psychiatric ward to the care of ‘the nearest relative.’

Our digital short aims to capture snapshots of Lara’s world and is part of a much bigger story.

Thank you to the following people for making Lara a reality

Sarah Cowan
Deborah Bruce
Helena Lymbery
Fiona Whitelaw
Catherine Rose Evans
Patch the dog
and to all at Clean Break for supporting this film.

With thanks to Arts Council England, DCMS, National Lottery Community Fund and Camden Giving.

Additional thanks to Jerwood Arts and The Garrick Charitable Trust for their support of new writing at Clean Break.

tags : Productions
Favour News Story

Clean Break announce new production Favour

We are very excited to announce our summer 2022 show, a Clean Break and Bush Theatre co-production, Favour by Ambreen Razia, directed by Róisín McBrinn and Sophie Dillon Moniram.

Favour is a touching and hopeful family drama that tackles duty, addiction and the battle of putting yourself back together. Writer of Diary of a Hounslow Girl and Mind The Gap, Ambreen Razia’s remarkable new play tells a strikingly frank story of a working-class Muslim family in a way you’ve never seen before on stage.

The play follows Leila, a teenage girl who is happy living at home with Noor, her loving but traditional grandmother. When Aleena, her fiercely independent mother, returns home from prison determined to deliver a new world of fun and excitement, their calm lives are upended in a blur of nail varnish and sweet treats. Family secrets come tumbling into the light, and Leila finds deciding on her future more difficult than she first thought.

We are honoured that Favour will be part of the Bush Theatre's 50th Anniversary Season, running from Friday 24 June until Saturday 6 August 2022.

Anna Herrmann, Joint Artistic Director and Joint Chief Executive of Clean Break: “We are absolutely thrilled to be co-producing this beautiful play by Ambreen with The Bush and to be part of their celebratory 50th anniversary season, with such a stellar creative team and directed by a brilliant duo in Róisín and Sophie. We haven’t been on a London stage since 2019 and couldn’t be more delighted that our return is to this remarkable venue, which combines extraordinary theatre, with strong community values. The Bush feels like the perfect home both for us, and for this special story of struggle and hope.

The play is being co-directed by two outstanding women directors; Clean Break's Joint Artistic Director, Róisín McBrinn whose recent credits include our production Typical Girls by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, and is currently directing Kate Mosse's The Taxidermist's Daughter at Chichester Festival Theatre. Co-directing with Róisín is Sophie Dillon Moniram, a 2018 Old Vic 12 alumna who's credits include POT and Diary of a Hounslow Girl, both also written by Ambreen Razia.

Sophie Dillon Moniram, Co-Director The Favour: “I am hugely excited to be co-directing The Favour with Róisín McBrinn, a brave and tender piece from Ambreen Razia about starting again, co-produced by two extraordinary forces in The Bush and Clean Break who are passionately committed to serving their communities.

Tickets for Favour are now on sale, through the Bush Theatre's website.


tags : Productions
An image with a blue background and two black and white headshots in the centre, one of Nicole Hall and one of Jennifer Joseph.

Clean Break and Almeida Theatre announce casting for More Than We Can Bear

We are excited to announce the casting for More Than We Can Bear, part of the Almeida Theatre's Keyworkers Cycle.

Written by Eno Mfon (Check the Label, Bristol Old Vic), Directed by Eva Sampson (Unpresedented, BBC Arts) with Assistant Director Esme Allman (CLUB, Bedlam Theatre) and Musical Direction from Eddy Queens (Typical Girls, Clean Break & Sheffield Theatres). The cast includes Nicole Hall (Through This Mist, Clean Break) and Jennifer Joseph (Maryland, Royal Court), alongside a community chorus of Clean Break Members including Anita Brown, Jacqueline Conibeer, Yvonne Jeffrey, Sally Millar, Eden Rose and Oriana White.

“5pm. It's time for Sandra to stop working, close her laptop, switch off her phone and her worry, but it’s not that easy. When Sandra starts to work from home, the voices of the women she's supporting creep in too... in her bedroom, in the walls and even her dreams.”

More Than We Can Bear was written by Eno Mfon following research interviews with key workers at several women’s centres during the pandemic.

The play is part of the Almeida Theatre's Keyworkers Cycle, a cycle of nine new plays celebrating the stories of those who keep our daily lives running, including teachers, doctors, cleaners, support workers and delivery drivers.

More Than We Can Bear will be at the Almeida Theatre from 11 - 12 March 2022. The Keyworkers Cycle will be running from 9 - 12 March. All performances of More Than We Can Bear will be BSL interpreted, performances on 12 March will also be captioned and audio described.

Book tickets

tags : Productions

Clean Break and Sheffield Theatres announce casting for Typical Girls

We are thrilled to announce the cast for Typical Girls by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, at the Crucible Theatre.

Directed by Clean Break’s Joint Artistic Director Róisín McBrinn (Afterplay, Sheffield Theatres) full casting includes Helen Cripps (Women Beware Women, Shakespeare’s Globe), Lucy Edkins ([BLANK], Donmar Warehouse), Lucy Ellinson (Run Sister Run, Sheffield Theatres), Eddy Queens (Through This Mist, Clean Break), Alison Fitzjohn (Take That’s – The Band Musical, UK Tour), Lara Grace Ilori (Living Newspaper Edition 6, Royal Court) and Carrie Rock (Julius Caesar, Donmar Warehouse/St Ann's Warehouse, New York).

“This is punk. This is rebellion. This is how we make change. This is what we need to do.”

From writer Morgan Lloyd Malcolm (Emilia) and featuring the music of influential all-female punk band, The Slits, Typical Girls is part gig, part play and is funny, fierce and furious.

In a specialised unit inside a prison, a group of women discover the music of punk rock band The Slits and form their own group. An outlet for their frustration, they find remedy in revolution. But in a system that suffocates, can rebellion ever be allowed?

Róisín McBrinn, Joint Artistic Director of Clean Break: “We’re over the moon to be co-producing this raucous, explosive show! Morgan’s script is electric, and we have a stellar creative team and hugely exciting cast. Clean Break is so proud to be returning with this joyous, important play and to be exploding it onto the beautiful Crucible stage!”

Robert Hastie, Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres: “We couldn’t be more excited to be producing such a bold, riotous new play with a company as inspiring as Clean Break, and can’t wait to welcome this brilliant cast and creative team into the rehearsal room.”

Returning to the Crucible are Lucy Ellinson, following her starring role in Run Sister Run in 2020; and Róisín McBrinn, after directing the 2014 production Afterplay by Brian Friel.

Typical Girls will be at the Crucible Theatre from 24 September to 16 October with the performance on 6 October live-streamed and available to watch online. Tickets will be available from sheffieldtheatres.co.uk

Creative Team

Writer Morgan Lloyd Malcolm
Director Róisín McBrinn
Musical Director Rosie Bergonzi
Casting Director Nadine Rennie CDG
Assistant Director Aaliyah Mckay
Designer Kat Heath
Lighting Designer Katy Morrison
Associate Lighting Designer Rachel Cleary
Sound Designer Beth Duke
Movement Director Chi San Howard
Music Director Mentor Yshani Perinpanayagam
Line Producer 45 North
Featuring the music of The Slits

Read the full press release.

tags : Productions

I am a theatre: Exhibition Guide

'I am a theatre’ celebrates four decades of Clean Break creating groundbreaking theatre on women’s experience of the criminal justice system. Incorporating previously unseen archival material, it traces the origins of Clean Break from two women who met in HMP Durham’s high security ‘H-Wing’ in 1977, to setting up a drama workshop for women inside HMP Askham Grange, and establishing Clean Break after release in 1979 as a ‘women prisoners theatre’.

Since then, Clean Break has staged over 100 original plays that shine a light on the hidden lives of women caught up in the criminal justice system. With original scripts, artwork and photography, I am a theatre traces the remarkable story of a company whose story encompasses over 40 years of radical theatre, feminism and justice in the UK.

Watch the exhibition tour video documenting how it was made, and including interviews with the designers and Exhibition Guides here:


tags : Productions
Typical Girls Hero

Clean Break Announce New Production Typical Girls

We are delighted to announce our autumn 2021 show, a Clean Break and Sheffield Theatres co-production, Typical Girls by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, directed by Róisín McBrinn.

A new punk musical play set in a mental health unit inside a prison, a group of women discover the music of punk rock band The Slits and form their own group. An outlet for their frustration, they find remedy in revolution. But in a system that suffocates, can rebellion ever be allowed?

Part-gig, part-play, Typical Girls is funny, fierce and furious.

Beginning the new season in the Crucible, Typical Girls runs from Friday 24 September – Saturday 16 October 2021. 

Robert Hastie, Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres said:

‘’We kick off with the world premiere of a new play by one of the UK’s most remarkable writers. For Typical Girls, by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, we’re thrilled to be working with the fantastic company Clean Break. Part gig, part-play this riotous new show sees a group of women light up through their journey into punk rock."

Morgan Lloyd Malcolm is the writer behind The Globe hit Emilia which transferred to the West End in 2019. She has written a number of plays for Hampstead Theatre, The Old Vic, Lyric Hammersmith, Firehouse Productions and Clean Break.

Her new play Mum will premiere at Soho Theatre this autumn. Current screen work includes an original treatment for Gaumont, an untitled book adaptation for Gaumont/Moonage and two episodes of a comedy drama for Merman Films. She is also under commission to adapt both Emilia and The Wasp as feature films.

This production was originally co-commissioned by Clean Break with the Royal Shakespeare Company who also contributed to its early development.

Tickets are on sale from 17 July 2021.

To find out more information on our current productions click here. 


tags : Productions

2 Metres Apart

Clean Break Launches 2 Metres Apart: socially distanced collaborations between Playwrights and Member Artists 

Led by our commitment to the alchemy between Artists and our Members, we are pleased to launch a new project, 2 Metres Apart, the joint commissioning of twelve writers from our artist community and twelve of our Member artists.

The twelve artistic collaborators are:

Ayesha Antoine and Yvonne Wickham
Deborah Bruce and Sarah Cowan
Katherine Chandler and Nicole Hall
Vivienne Franzmann and Kathryn O’Reilly
Sonya Hale and Lucy Edkins
Yasmin Joseph and River
Morgan Lloyd Malcolm and TerriAnn Oudjar
Sabrina Mahfouz and Posy Sterling
Chloë Moss and Sarah Jane Dent
Ambreen Razia and Natasha Jean Sparkes
Danusia Samal and Funke Adeleke
Somalia Seaton and Eddy Emenike

Over the next 8 weeks our twelve pairs will meet digitally to work creatively, share ideas, and see what arises from the process. They could choose to co-write together, to each respond to a selected stimulus, for one artist to write for their partner to perform. Working on the understanding that both Artists’ skills and lived experience are equally valued, the pairs will work as collaborators on equal footing to explore what creative partnership could look like.  The project is focused on practise rather than product, providing our collaborators the space to explore and experiment. We have chosen not to focus on outcomes but to bring people together and maintain our commitment to nurture, employ and extend artists and our Members.

3 pairs of Artists have written blogs about the experience. Read them now:

Lucy Edkins and Sonya Hale
Nicole Hall and Katherine Chandler
Funke Adeleke and Danusia Samal

Click here to read the full press release.

tags : Productions
Not Pretty Like The Rainbow

Clean Break announces its first season of 2020

After a standout 2019, we are back with a brilliant new season in 2020!

We have a range of exciting new work coming to you this season, putting Clean Break Members centre stage and exploring the challenging issues facing women in the criminal justice system.

First off, we have Yasmin Joseph’s Inside This Box, inspired by stories of coercion and the choices young women face directed by Stef O’Driscoll and staring the Clean Break Young Artists. Catch it at the Arcola and Omnibus theatres 26 – 29 February.

Written by Clean Break Member Daisy King, Not Pretty Like The Rainbow challenges the ineffectiveness and damage caused by short sentencing. Directed by Anna Herrmann and performed by Clean Break Members, this play is touring criminal justice and academic settings until 31 March 2020.

Staged in a prison van, Sweatbox, Chloë Moss’ intimate play, shines a light on women’s experiences travelling between prisons and courts. Currently touring, it will be at Essex Book Festival on 14 March and Clean Break 28 April.

We also have brilliant training opportunities for those of you working in theatre and criminal justice settings:

Unlocking Potential (19 March) invites participants to learn from Clean Break’s four decades of experience working with women affected by the criminal justice system, sharing expertise on creating safe and transformative women-only spaces.

Over three days, The Lab (30 March – 1 April) provides unique insight into Clean Break’s practice and philosophy, led by Joint Artistic Directors Anna Herrmann and Róisín McBrinn. Working collaboratively with Clean Break Members, it is a unique experience to learn in depth about Clean Break’s specialised approach to theatre and criminal justice.

We are so excited for this season at Clean Break, and we know you won’t want to miss out!

Click here to book tickets to our shows and training days.

Click here to read the full press release.


tags : Productions

Take a First Look at [BLANK] at The Donmar Warehouse

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. 

Click here to book your [BLANK] ticket 

Photography by Helen Maybanks 

tags : Productions
Sweatbox Slide (1012 x 544)

Sweatbox casting announced

Three Clean Break Members to star

 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!

Click here to find out more about Sweatbox

tags : Productions

Rebel Voices to Launch at Donmar Warehouse

An incredible cast of performers join Clean Break to celebrate their new book.

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.’


tags : Productions
The Clean Break Podcast

Clean Break Launch First Podcast Series

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.






We’d like to say a big thank you to The Space and Arts Council England who funded this project through National Lottery funding.

tags : Productions
40th Anniversary Season two

Clean Break Announce 40th Anniversary Second Season

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’s Rebel Voices Launch

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.

Clean Break @ High Tide Festival

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.

Clean Break @ 40 Leadership Event Series

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.


Blog: An Interview with Paula Varjack

We asked Director and Video Artist Paula Varjack about her work on All The Lights Are On

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.

tags : Productions

Blog: An interview with the cast of Belong part two

Marketing maestro Caro Boss caught up with Carys and Serena from Belong to find out more about the process and the experience in the rehearsal room.

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.

Click here to find out more about Belong 


tags : Productions

Inside Bitch is a Hit!

The reviews are in...

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?!

tags : Productions
Inside Bitch

Inside Bitch Creative Team Announced

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!”

Click here to find out more about Inside Bitch

tags : Productions
Clean Break Spring Season

Clean Break Announce 40th Anniversary Spring Season

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:

Inside Bitch 
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.


tags : Productions

Cast announced for Thick As Thieves

Rehearsals have begun this week

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.

tags : Productions

Clean Break announce a new drama from Katherine Chandler

A new drama from Wales Drama Award winning playwright Katherine Chandler, co-produced with Theatr Clwyd.

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.

tags : Productions
Brazen Theatre Company

Brazen Create Podcast to Assess Impact of Youth Loneliness

‘What does it mean to belong?’

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.

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Clean Break team up with Miriam Nabarro for PROCESSIONS

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. 

Shakespeare Trilogy

Shakespeare Trilogy

Clean Break is pleased to be once again working alongside The Donmar Warehouse as it concludes its stupendous Shakespeare Trilogy.

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!

tags : Productions