Deborah Bruce

Blog: An Interview with Deborah Bruce

To celebrate the amazing work that Deborah has produced for us during her time as Clean Break Writer in Residence we interviewed her to find out about her experience of working with us.

What has been different about working with us, how has the experience here differed to working with other theatre companies?

Clean Break is a company I have wanted to work with for years so I was so excited to have the opportunity to be a writer in residence here and forge a relationship with the women and the work. I suppose the most over riding difference at Clean Break is that the company reaches in many directions, and as a writer you find yourself working in lots of very different environments. There is the work inside prisons, work at Clean Break itself and work in theatres and outside spaces, and the work passes from one environment to another. For example, one of the most interesting projects I have been part of began with a group of women taking part in a writing group in HMP Send, and their words and ideas turned into Hear, a performance piece that was rehearsed by actors at Clean Break and then shown at The House of Lords and the National Theatre. The journey that the work embarks upon enhances and deepens it, making it feel properly connected to the ethos of Clean Break as a company.

What has been your personal highlight from your time spent working with us?

I have loved every part of the work I have done at Clean Break and learnt a lot. I suppose my personal highlight is perhaps the playwriting courses I have been part of; I have met the most incredible female writers and felt inspired by every single person that has taken part in these courses. In teaching playwriting I have learnt so much about what writing is, and what an invaluable safety valve it can provide. I have been struck by what a generous and supportive environment those writer’s groups have created – sharing your writing is a very vulnerable thing to do, and the community that these groups have provided women who write, has been moving and inspiring to me in a big way.

How have you found working in all female environment?

The non competitive, supportive, and genuinely non-judgemental atmosphere at Clean Break has felt liberating. I love it. I love being in the building and although I’m not putting all of this down to the absence of men, (I went to an all girl’s school that was nothing like this at all!) I think the all female environment contributes to a more direct, straightforward authenticity about the communication in the organisation. It is also refreshing to work in an environment that feels diverse in other ways – culturally, ethnically, across class divides – and to feel that pressing forward, positively and creatively is the unified aim.

What advice would you pass on to our members about making it in the Industry?

Keep your integrity, write or create work from a place you are properly connected to. Don’t think of ‘the industry’ as a thing over there that you will be lucky to break into, think of your contribution as something that the industry would be lucky to have. The industry is just a collection of people doing their thing, there’s room for more good ideas and hard working individuals to join in. See as much theatre as you can, read plays, make relationships and connections with companies that are making work you respect. If you write, get a group of like-minded people together to read each other’s work out loud. You don’t need permission to write, push yourself towards things that inspire you, eavesdrop, keep your eyes open to the small details, try and stay open.

A Huge thank you from everyone at Clean Break!

As a company we would like to extend our thanks to Deborah for the amazing work she has produced and the dedication that she has shown towards our members and that is why we are delighted to announce that our relationship does not end here! In fact Deborah will be working on a full length commission for us, so watch this space.

When asked about Deborah’s contribution to Clean break Lucy Perman commented:

“Deborah has been a superb resident playwright. She’s immersed herself in every aspect of the company’s work – in prisons and in our playwriting workshops at our studios. She has been an encouraging and nurturing teacher and mentor for our Member writers as well writing several short plays for us already. We’re really looking forward to her full-length commission for Clean Break.”

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