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 email@example.com
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.
Erin Gavaghan is an experienced executive arts manager who has worked within both new writing theatre and contemporary dance / choreography.
Erin has been Executive Director and joint CEO of Clean Break since October 2018. Previously at Siobhan Davies Dance, she held several roles; most recently as Executive Director (from 2014). Prior to that, she was the General Manager of Soho Theatre (2008-2012), having also followed a path of progression from Front of House Manager (2005-2007) and Deputy General Manager (2007-2008). Since moving to London from Canada in 2000, Erin has also worked at the Royal Albert Hall as the Stewards Administrator and Natural History Museum managing catering services.
Erin studied English Literature and Theatre (Directing) at the University of Victoria (Canada) and attained an MA in Arts Policy and Management from Birkbeck in 2005. She has a passion for life-long learning.
Anna Herrmann has been working in the field of theatre and social change for twenty seven years, specialising in theatre and education with marginalised groups in the UK and abroad. She has been with Clean Break since 2002 as the Head of Education, leading the company’s award winning work with women in the criminal justice system and women at risk of entering it. Anna is co-author of Making a Leap: Theatre of Empowerment: A Practical Handbook for Creative Drama Work with Young People (Jessica Kingsley Publishers). She has an MA in Arts Education from Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and a PG Cert (Distinction) in Race and Ethnic relations. She is a regular visiting lecturer on Applied Theatre courses at Universities across the Country and between 2006 and 2018 was a trustee of Leap Confronting Conflict; a UK based national charity specialising in youth and conflict. Anna sits on the Steering Group of the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance and is also a trained coach and regularly mentors artists in participatory settings.
Róisín McBrinn is a theatre director with over fifteen years experience working in the UK, Ireland and internationally. She has been with Clean Break since 2016 as the Head of Artistic Programme and during that time has directed Joanne (Soho Theatre and RSC) and House/Amongst The Reeds (Yard Theatre) for the company. She was formerly Associate Director at Sherman Cymru where she oversaw the commissioning and developing of new Welsh writing. Róisín has directed for the Donmar Warehouse (Noveccento), Sheffield Theatres (Afterplay), West Yorkshire Playhouse (Yerma), Prime Cut (Villa/Discurso), The Abbey Theatre (No Escape, Perve, Heartbreak House). She has developed new work for Soho Theatre, The National Theatre, The Bush, The Abbey and Sherman Theatre. This summer she is directing a stage adaptation of Roddy Doyle's The Snapper for Dublin's Gate Theatre.
"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"