When I was in the first prison, they said I was schizophrenic and they gave me these tablets. When I was moved to the second place, they said they never had no tablets to give me, so I guess I wasn’t schizophrenic after all.
Commissioned by Clean Break in association with NOMS and the Department of Health and performed by graduates of Clean Break’s theatre education programme, Sounds Like An Insult by Vivienne Franzmann explores the experiences of women offenders with complex mental health needs, and the challenges of diagnosis and treatment within the criminal justice system.
To get in touch about booking a performance for your organisation or event, please contact Producer Dezh Zhelyazkova on firstname.lastname@example.org
A note from playwright Vivienne Franzmann
During my research, I spoke to a psychiatrist who works with women with ‘Personality Disorder’ in the criminal justice system. He told me that while official figures were lower, he estimated that around 80% of women in prison were suffering from some kind of personality disorder. So it became important to me to represent a wide range of women in the piece Sounds Like An Insult. In my research, I spoke to one woman who had been diagnosed and given a written report in prison; yet a year on, she still didn’t know what the term Personality Disorder meant and was too afraid to ask. I spoke to another woman who felt absolute relief at the diagnosis. The more women I spoke to, it became clear that everyone had different experiences and responses, yet all of the women seemed to have lived lives characterised by chaos, a sense of isolation and a feeling of otherness. Sounds Like An Insult gives snap shots of the lives of these women and their experiences in the criminal justice system.
Vivienne Franzmann was a teacher for 13 years in London secondary schools. In 2008, she won the Bruntwood Playwriting Award with her first play Mogadishu (Manchester Royal Exchange and Lyric Hammersmith) and went on to be awarded the George Devine Award for Most Promising Playwright in 2010. Her second play, The Witness (Royal Court) won a Pearson Playwrights’ Bursary and an attachment to the Royal Court. Vivienne was writer in residence for Clean Break in 2012 and has taught the playwriting course several times. Clean Break commissioned Vivienne’s third play Pests (Manchester Royal Exchange, Royal Court and UK tour). She has written for Channel 4, BBC 1, Radio 4 and Radio 3, and is currently under commission to the Almeida Theatre, the Royal Court and Washington Studios.
Sarah trained at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the NYT. Previous credits for Clean Break include: SOUNDS LIKE AN INSULT, FRIENTIMACY and HOURS ‘TILL MIDNIGHT. Sarah is currently writing and dramaturgy for MONOMENTAL WOMEN, a new writing project exploring issues related to women’s mental health and complex mental illness.
Yvonne has performed extensively with Clean Break including in SOUNDS LIKE AN INSULT (2015) and with Cardboard Citizens including CATHY COME HOME (2016), CELEBRATING RECOVERY (2016) and A FEW MAN FRIDAYS (2015). Her other acting credits include: EASTENDERS (BBC, 2020/2021), AND YET IT MOVES and CARNATION FOR A SONG (Young Vic, 2018) and YOU SAY YOU WANT A REVOLUTION and DUSA, FISH, STAS AND VI (Synergy, 2016). She has also toured schools in Hackney extensively with Immediate Theatre Company.
"The performance was engaging, thought provoking and staggeringly well done"
"It was a powerful potrayal of a range of situations that I have experienced in the female prison system. The frankness of the performance was refreshing"