News — Clean Break



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Clean Break Announce New Production: The Trials and Passions of Unfamous Women

Co-produced with London International Festival of Theatre, in proud association with Brixton House.

Women who dare to transgress will face judgement.

The world premiere of The Trials and Passions of Unfamous Women asks what is justice, and who has the power to decide. This bold and theatrical experience immerses us in the haze between the shared rituals of theatre and the halls of justice.

A passion is what obsesses us, what we take risks for. Throughout history, driven by "passion",  women have crossed the line between the legal and illegal, the moral and immoral and, because of that, faced the laws of their time.  Whether in public trials or in the intimacy of homes, a visible and invisible struggle has been waged against women who are judged for their passions.

Brazilian theatremakers Janaina Leite, Lara Duarte and Clean Break theatre company Members devise an epic journey through the theatre of judgement. We encounter the voices of historic, mythic women and the personal stories and passions of the women on stage, labelled as transgressive as truth and fiction collide.

London's International Festival of Theatre | Brixton House | 14 - 22 June 2024



Created by Janaina Leite, Lara Duarte and Athena Maria, Yvonne Wickham, Sarah-Jane Dent, Dominique Lavine Wood-Whyte and Kim Teresa (KT) Marsh
Concept, Dramaturgy and Direction - Janaina Leite
Co-Direction, Dramaturgy and Writing - Lara Duarte 
UK Associate Artist and Dramaturgy - Rachel Valentine Smith
Production Director for Artist team - Carla Estefan
Set & Costume Designer - Alex Berry
Sound Design - Mwen
Light Design - Sarah Readman

Artwork: Peek Images

tags : Productions
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'

New Audio Drama: A Proposal for Resisting Darkness

An audio drama by Yasmin Joseph in collaboration with HMP Downview Theatre Company

Clean Break is excited to present a new audio drama, available to listen to for free on our Knowledge Hub.

"We will always be too loud for a world that never intended on listening to us. But we’ll speak all the same."

The malevolent beast Darkness has taken the voices of all women on earth, but a group of magical women in the clouds create their own proposal for resisting Darkness's power. Will they succeed or will Darkness silence them for good?

A Proposal for Resisting Darkness was created with a group of women at HMP Downview and playwright Yasmin Joseph during a series of workshops. The play was the outcome of Clean Break’s participation in Inspiring Futures, a research project involving leading arts in criminal justice organisations and the University of Cambridge and led by the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance. A Proposal for Resisting Darkness was originally directed by Anna Herrmann and first performed by HMP Downview Theatre Company inside the prison in 2022.

To extend the reach of this abstract yet relatable play, A Proposal for Resisting Darkness has been adapted into an audio drama, originally broadcast across the prison estate of England and Wales on National Prison Radio and now available online on Clean Break’s Knowledge Hub.

The audio play is performed by Lisa-Marie Ashworth, Shona Babayemi, TerriAnn Cousins, Polly Frame, and Jade Small, and is directed by Anna Herrmann. It was produced by Clean Break in association with Prison Radio Association.

With thanks to The National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance, Clinks, University of Cambridge, and Arts Council England for their support.

Listen for free on our Knowledge Hub

Playwright - Yasmin Joseph in collaboration with HMP Downview Theatre Company   
Director - Anna Herrmann   
Cast – Lisa-Marie Ashworth, Shona Babayemi, TerriAnn Cousins, Polly Frame, and Jade Small 
Producer (Clean Break) - Maya Ellis 
Producer (Prison Radio Association) - Perri Hurley 
Assistant Producer (Prison Radio Association) - Richie Makepeace 
Executive Producer (Prison Radio Association) - Andrew Wilkie

tags : Productions
A blueprint for Hope front cover

Introducing a Blueprint for Hope

The co-creators of our film Hope share a toolkit of resources to inspire hope and change.

“I can look at the world and either get drowned in it, or I can see the ocean as it is and look at the beauty and go, ok, what can I do?” 

Our Blueprint for Hope, a toolkit of ideas, exercises and prompts to accompany our co-created film, Hope, is now available to download. 

The document is intended to support the creative exploration of what hope means to you. It can be used individually, or as part of a group; you can choose specific exercises to do, or work through it from start to finish. 

The creative team used the exercises in this Blueprint to generate ideas, conversations, images and film footage that was edited together to make Hope  

Through this process, they conceived the film as a collage, understanding hope as a tapestry of individual people, actions and experiences that are woven together into something bigger.  

Now, they hope the Blueprint will enable you to think about and generate your own projects for hope. The intention is to cause a ripple effect, bringing more people along a journey of hope, because it’s not us that needs to change, it’s the world.  

Blueprint for Hope is available to purchase for £5 on our Knowledge Hub, where you will also find Hope the film.

Download our Blueprint for Hope

Blueprint for Hope is free for community groups. To request a free copy, email

tags : Productions
Lead still for Clean Break film, Hope

Clean Break announce new film, Hope

“It’s not us that needs to change, it’s the world.”

We are incredibly excited to announce Hope, a newly co-created film from Clean Break Members and director Kirsty Housley.

Hope is an uplifting story of personal growth and community activism, exploring what hope means for women facing adversity. Through personal stories, reflection, poetry and movement, Natasha, Carina, Michelle and Nicole navigate how to hold on to hope in times of uncertainty, and what to do when the world makes you feel there is none to be found.

This lyrical documentary offers an intimate portrait of four women pushing back against oppressive forces which threaten to squash their spirit. It invites us all to consider: where does hope come from, what sustains it during times of darkness, and how can we share it with others?

Featuring cinematography from Tracy Kiryango (BUFF Winner 2022), sound design by Elena Peña, and movement direction from Jennifer Jackson, the cast also partly self-filmed, scripted and moulded the shape of the piece, to offer their unfiltered and real voices.

Hope’s creative team conceived the film as a platform to inspire action and prompt public discussion. It will be accompanied by a toolkit of stimulus, Blueprint for Hope, used during the making of the film, that will enable a community around the film to also grow and develop their own projects for hope. Details on how to access Blueprint for Hope will follow the film’s launch.

Hope will be launched this Autumn across a number of screenings and released digitally on Clean Break’s Knowledge Hub.

Kiln Theatre, London – 30 October
Film screening launch event and celebration

Storyhouse, Chester – 4 November
Film screening and panel discussion with Carina Murray, Hope cast member and Paula Harriott, Head of Prisoner Engagement, Prison Reform Trust

Watch Hope online

tags : Productions
Playwrights Pathway production images

Playwrights Pathway Sharings Cast Announced

We are excited to announce the full cast for our sharings of Member Playwrights work at the Royal Court Theatre

Playwrights Pathway is a partnership between Clean Break and Royal Court, supporting a small group of Clean Break Members to develop their playwriting craft, working towards their first full-length play-script.

Each writer pitched an idea and across the programme these ideas have been developed into each writer’s first full-length playscript. Read our announcement of the details of these plays here.

We are excited to announce the full cast assembled for two sharings of rehearsed extracts from this body of work.

The company includes:
Catherine Cusack (Difficult Daughters/ Mix Up Mix Up)
Emily Taaffe (Difficult Daughters/swan)
Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Mix Up Mix Up/swan)
Posy Sterling (Glitz'n'Gutz)
Renu Brindle (Glitz'n'Gutz)
Sarah Kinlen (swan)
Shona Babayemi (Mix Up Mix Up)
Anna-Maria Nabirye (Mango Season)

Anna Hermann (Artistic Director, Clean Break) will direct Mix Up Mix Up and Glitz’n’Gutz, whilst Rachel Valentine Smith (Creative Associate, Clean Break) will direct Difficult Daughters, Mango Season and swan.

Tickets for the Playwrights Pathway sharings on Monday 5 and Tuesday 6 September are free to book. For further information, please visit the Royal Court website.

tags : Productions
An image of two hands holding pencils over a page covered in handwriting. The images is overlaid with a teal coloured filter.

Pathway plays announced

We’re excited to share new details of our Member Playwrights work

We’re excited to announce new details of the plays due to be shown at two Playwrights Pathway sharings on 4 and 5 September at the Royal Court Theatre.


Playwrights Pathway is a partnership between Clean Break and Royal Court, supporting a small group of Clean Break Members to develop their playwriting craft, working towards their first full-length play-script.

These events will share a series of rehearsed extracts of the following plays:

Difficult Daughters by Jill Power

Difficult Daughters is an intergenerational story exploring three generations of women from the same family lineage, all with complex issues and needs around identity and belonging.

We look at their past and present and uncover traumas reactivated by colonial acts of violence, where over 2 million were starved and forced to sever their connection to the land.  Part gig-theatre, part drama, Difficult Daughters uses traditional Irish storytelling and folk music to capture the grandmother Patty's fractured sense of self.  Against the backdrop of four decades, we witness patterns of behaviours repeating themselves - until the mould breaks, bringing about change and hope.

Glitz ‘n’ Gutz by Oriana White

Glitz ‘n’ Gutz follows Maria, a young woman who has just been housed in a room in a temporary accommodation shared with two other girls. We discover the breakdown of family relationships between Maria and her foster mum, Ama and her girlfriend Gina.

Following Maria on her journey of healing, reconnection, transformation and self-discovery as she tries to come to terms with the effects of a life-threatening disease - Crohn’s. The party is over and she realises she must focus on self-care and self-love.

Mango Season by Fatima Dupres-Griffiths

Mango Season is about female genital mutilation (FGM) and the effects this has on a young eleven-year-old Somali girl. The play explores what womanhood means in Somalian tradition juxtaposed with what it means to our protagonist, Samira.

With the use of ancestral chorusing, an approach influenced by Ntozake Shange, Mango Season addresses the complexities of FGM and the relationship Samira has with her body, and her rejection of the traditions that are not part of her world. The trauma of Samira’s experience puts her on a different journey, far from her sheltered, privileged Chelsea upbringing.

Mix Up Mix Up by Ann Whitely

Mix Up Mix Up is a cross generational story that takes a candid look at how systemic and cyclical failures of state, racism and trauma impact the women we meet in this play. Their emotions, belief systems, and identity are all mixed up in a world that doesn't cater to them

Maureen is a white woman trying to raise mixed-race daughters Helen and Sharon in the 1970s and 80s. The sisters are trying to find out who they are in a world that offers little support and a lot of judgement. We witness the three women reckoning with the history that refuses to let them live in the present.

With the birth of a new generation, however, seeds of hope and resolution are sewn.

swan by Sorcha Fhionntain

swan is about three working class Irish women living in London. Lilly falls in love with Sinead. Macy, Lilly’s little sister faces displacement from her community due to gentrification. The play explores the relationships between Lilly and Sinead and how they embark on the journey into parenthood. It takes us on a journey allowing us insights into gentrification, bodily autonomy, gender expression and the challenges of love.


This programme was delivered by Rachel Valentine Smith and Titilola Dawudu, Creative Associates of Clean Break and Jade Franks from Royal Court's Open Court, with support from Dubheasa Lanipuken.

The Programme dramaturgs were Gurnesha Bola, Jade Franks, Rachel Valentine Smith and Titilola Dawudu.

Rachel Valentine Smith, Creative Associate at Clean Break says: “Working with the Writers each week to develop these brilliant stories has been a privilege. Delivering the programme with the Royal Court team has been such a rich and meaningful exchange that celebrates our organisation’s history together in a really special way.

There is no one way, no right way, no google-able way to write a play but each of the writers have approached it with incredible heart and verve. I can’t wait to share the work more widely.”

Jade Franks, Open Court Associate at The Royal Court comments: It has been an absolute pleasure to collaborate with Clean Break on the Pathways Project. It's been an incredibly successful project which is indicative of the longstanding relationship between The Royal Court and Clean Break. For me personally, working with these writers every week for almost a year has been one the highlights of my time working at The Royal Court. I have been continually inspired by and grateful to be sharing a space with the six writers as well as all those part of the Clean Break community.

Open to the public and free of charge, we hope you will join us to celebrate these imaginative stories, brought to life by the individual voices and talents of our writers.

tags : Productions
a photo from the set of Dixon and Daughters. A woman is lounging on a sofa, through a translucent wall you can see into a kitchen where two women are having a heated discussion.

Dixon and Daughters: Clean Break at the National Theatre

"It's a space for us to be able to find a voice for our life experiences."

We talked to our co-producers of Dixon and Daughters, the National Theatre, to share our process and approach to theatre, and what it means to our Members and staff.

Dixon and Daughters is on the Dorfman Stage until 10 June.

tags : Productions
black and white headshots of the cast of Dixon and Daughters on a dark green background.

Dixon and Daughters Cast Announcement

We are excited to announce the full cast as rehearsals begin this week.

Dixon and Daughters is a co-production with the National Theatre and Clean Break, the ground-breaking company producing theatre with and about women affected by the criminal justice system. It opens for performances in the Dorfman theatre from 15 April with press night on 25 April.

Róisín McBrinn (Artistic Director, Gate Theatre, Dublin) returns to Clean Break, where she was formerly Joint Artistic Director, to direct this powerful story of family and forgiveness, written by Deborah Bruce.

Mary has just been released from prison. She wants to come home and forget all about it, but Briana has other ideas. Over a tumultuous two days a family is forced to confront not just their past but themselves. Because even if you refuse to hear the truth, the truth doesn’t go away.

The cast includes Liz White (Anatomy of a Scandal), Andrea Lowe (Sherwood) and Posy Sterling (The Taxidermist’s Daughter) alongside Bríd Brennan (The Ferryman), Alison Fitzjohn (Typical Girls) and Yazmin Kayani (Nettle Day) who complete the company.

The set and costume designer is Kat Heath, lighting designer is Paule Constable, sound designer is Sinéad Diskin, movement director is Sarita Piotrowski, fight director is Rachel Brown-Williams for RC-Annie Ltd, with casting by Bryony Jarvis-Taylor.

Tickets for Dixon and Daughters are on sale now and available from £20. For further information, including details about assisted performances, please visit the National Theatre website.

tags : Productions
artwork for Dixon and Daughters. A collage of three women's profiles, they are different levels of transparency on a background of a wall with peeling paint.

Clean Break announce new production Dixon and Daughters

Opening at the National Theatre in April 2023

We are very excited to announce our spring 2023 production, co-produced with the National Theatre, which will play at their Dorfman theatre from 15 April 2023. Dixon and Daughters is a powerful story of family and forgiveness, written by Deborah Bruce (Raya, Hampstead Theatre). The play will be directed by Róisín McBrinn (Favour, Bush Theatre), Clean Break’s previous Joint Artistic Director, and current Artistic Director at the Gate Theatre, Dublin.

Mary has just been released from prison. She wants to come home and forget all about it but Briana has other ideas. Over a tumultuous two days a family is forced to confront not just their past but themselves. Because even if you refuse to hear the truth, the truth doesn’t go away.

The cast includes Alison Fitzjohn (Typical Girls, Sheffield Theatres), Yazmin Kayani (Loam, Bristol Old Vic), Andrea Lowe (How The Other Half Loves, Duke of York's Theatre), Posy Sterling (The Taxidermist's Daughter, Chichester Festival Theatre) and Liz White (Shadowlands, Chichester Festival Theatre). The set and costume designer is Kat Heath, lighting designer is Paule Constable, sound designer is Sinéad Diskin and movement director is Sarita Piotrowski.

Deborah Bruce was one of five writers who contributed to Clean Break's Joanne which was performed at Latitude Festival and Soho Theatre in 2016, she was also Clean Break’s Writer in Residence between 2016-18.

Clean Break’s Artistic Director Anna Herrmann: “We are thrilled to be working with the National Theatre, bringing Deborah Bruce’s emotionally charged and powerful play, Dixon and Daughters, to their iconic Dorfman stage. It has been a privilege working with Deborah over a number of years as she gave life to this important story and we cannot wait to share it with audiences. We are equally delighted to be reunited with Róisín McBrinn as she returns to direct, alongside many talented women artists, some of whom we have had the pleasure of working with before, and others we are excited to welcome to the Clean Break community.”

Tickets on sale now

tags : Productions
a collage image of Avita and Rina in Favour

Favour cast members nominated for Offies Awards

Favour’s incredible cast members Avita Jay and Rina Fatania have been nominated for best lead and best supporting performance in the Offies Awards. These nominations are so well deserved, with Jay bringing the chaotic and hopeful Aleena to life "with boundless energy and verve" (The Spy in the Stalls) and Fatania turning the gossiping ‘aunty’ Fozia into "a gorgeous comic monster" (The Arts Desk).

The Offies are the The Off West End Theatre Awards, recognising the very best in Off West End productions in London. Previous winners include Linda Bassett, Mimi Ndiweni and Sarah Niles.

Sophie Dillon Moniram, Co-Director of Favour said “I am thoroughly pleased for Avita and Rina to have their brilliance and hard work recognised through their Offie Nominations. We have had such an incredible time working with our fantastic, dedicated cast in honouring Ambreen's important play.”

Favour is on at Bush Theatre until 6 August 2022. Don’t miss your chance to see our ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “revolutionary” and “heartfelt” play, following three generations of South Asian women rebuilding their lives and their relationships as one of them re-enters the community after being in prison.

Book tickets

tags : Productions

Podcast: Ambreen Razia speaks with Home Girls Unite

Ambreen discusses Favour with support group for eldest daughters.

Our new play Favour by Ambreen Razia is a hopeful and touching drama following Leila, a daughter caught between her westernised mother Aleena and traditional grandmother Noor. The family navigates life as Aleena returns from prison to their home in the heart of a South Asian Muslim community in Ilford. Feeling the conflict between her mother and grandma, and pressure from either side to live life on their terms, Leila must decide what she wants her life to look like – for herself.

The duty, expectation and familial shame that comes with being a daughter are themes at the centre of Favour. While exploring these topics at Clean Break, a brilliant organisation called Home Girls Unite came to mind straight away.

Home Girls Unite are a small but impactful organisation which exists to support eldest daughters from immigrant families - ‘eldest’ not only referring to birth order, but the ‘parentification’ which many daughters experience. The organisation was formed by Hanna and Yasin, two young women who participated in the FORWARD* Young Women’s Leadership Programme. After taking part in the programme, the founders realised that eldest daughters are a group who have huge expectations placed upon them by families and communities, but are often overlooked. From this, Home Girls Unite was formed.

While Favour was in rehearsals, Home Girls Unite came to visit Clean Break’s building to meet the cast and sit down with Ambreen to discuss the play and how its themes intersect with their mission. Listen on Apple, Spotify, Google, or here:



See Favour

Favour is on at Bush Theatre until 6 August 2022.

Book tickets

We will also be holding two post-show events during the run:

12 July – Parental imprisonment and the impact on families

Hosted by Clean Break, including Sarah Burrows, founder and CEO of Children Heard and Seen and Kate Fraser, Head of Prison Partnerships and Participation at Women in Prison and Ambreen Razia, writer of Favour.

27 July (evening) – Women, racism and cultural disparities in the Criminal Justice System

Hosted by Clean Break Co-Chair Alison Frater, including Sofia Buncy, founder of Muslim Women in Prison and Marchu Girma, CEO of Hibiscus Initiatives and Ambreen Razia, writer of Favour.

*FORWARD (Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development) is the leading African women-led organisation working to end violence against women and girls.

tags : Productions
headshot of Ambreen Razia

Meet Ambreen Razia: writer of Favour

Ahead of our new play Favour opening on 24 June, writer Ambreen Razia caught up with Bush Theatre, our co-producers on this groud-breaking play about a working class Muslim family. Read their story below.

 Currently rehearsing at the Bush Theatre is our next show, Ambreen Razia’s Favour the world premiere of a touching and hopeful family drama that tackles duty, addiction, and the battle of putting yourself back together. Favour is co-produced with Clean Break Theatre Company, directed by Clean Break’s Joint Artistic director Róisín McBrinn and Sophie Dillon Moniram and with a cast including Avita Jay, Renu Brindle, Rina Fatania, and Ashna Rabheru.

We dropped into rehearsals to speak to Ambreen and learn more about the actress and writer from South London. Her previous work includes the critically acclaimed play The Diary of a Hounslow Girl which toured the UK before being adapted as a BBC Three pilot. Her play POT which focuses on girls in gangs and children in the UK care system toured the UK in 2018. Ambreen also co-wrote the short film Relapse which centred around reoffending after prison. Her screenplay Romani Girl was commissioned and produced by Theatre Royal Stratford East in 2020.

On radio Ambreen co-edited the BBC Radio 4 chat show Gossip and Goddesses with Meera Syal and she has been part of the BBC writers’ room and on the BBC Talent Hotlist as well as being a member of the Royal Court Writers Group. As an actress, Ambreen’s recent credits include Hounslow Diaries (BBC), Scrapper (BFI/Film 4), Black Mirror (Netflix), This Way Up (Channel 4), Starstruck (BBC), and The Curse (Channel 4). She has won awards including ‘Best Newcomer’ at the Asian Media Awards, Eastern Eye’s ‘Emerging Artist’ award, and ‘Best Newcomer' at the Edinburgh Television Awards.

Ambreen said, ‘I love telling stories, I trained as an actress and couldn’t always rely on acting to be able to do that. You spend your time walking towards a character or a story which has already been written, it’s incredible and I love it, but I also had a burning desire to tell my own, introduce audiences to exhilarating characters I’ve known and tell stories which I’ve desperately wanted to see. It’s also probably been my way of working things out in my own life and contextualising it with a character or a story. My first play ‘The Diary of a Hounslow Girl’ it opened a lot of doors for me. I’m inspired by the truth, even if it hurts a bit’

For someone who has such a contemporary style, her inspirations are wide, ‘I love the classics, Shakespeare, Lorca, Coward, stories from the Quran or religious texts, I love a contemporary play with the depth and the roaring nature of a classical, even if it’s set inside a job centre or at a bus stop. I like anything that’s written from a place of depth and necessity, even if it’s a bit messy and mad.

I remember reading ‘The House of Bernarda Alba’ and going wow! This is the only play I’ve read that captures the intensity and powerful nature of the women in my family. I’d say the main inspiration for my new play ‘Favour’ is my mother.’

Ambreen is a devoted cinema and theatregoer and raves about the Bush’s recent family drama House of Ife. ‘I love having a good old natter before the play, about life or a bit of celebrity gossip then reminding myself I’m at the theatre now and should compose myself and have a bit of class!’ Although the Favour rehearsal period means she’s spending less time at home Ambreen’s been enjoying settling into a new flat and the domesticity of cooking. ‘I’ve become a big fan of Ikea’. It sounds like another family story is being created.

Tickets for Favour are on sale now.

tags : Productions
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 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 (Rehearsals and tech)
Kala Simpson - Stage Manager (run)
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

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 Cousins
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

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