Jenny and Jacki meet again at HMP Askham Grange Open Prison. Supported by governor Susan McCormick, they run workshops with fellow prisoners and create their first production: Efemera. They are invited to perform at York Arts Centre, becoming the first British group of prisoners to perform outside prison. They perform under the name Ask’em Out.
Clean Break develops its advocacy role, producing documentaries about conditions for women in prison and featuring in a BBC Newsnight report about HMP Holloway Prison’s C1 Unit. Killers is recorded for television and premieres on Channel 4. Decade by Jacki Holborough and The Good Life, devised by the company, tour to the Edinburgh Fringe, Amsterdam and London.
The Sin Eaters, by Jacki Holborough is Clean Break’s first transatlantic production, touring to New York, Boston and prisons across the U.S.A.
Co-founder Jacki Holborough leaves the company to become writer-in-residence at the Bush Theatre. She writes The Garden Girls, which wins two Time Out London Awards including Best New Play.
A three-tier training offer is introduced at Clean Break’s studios in Camden, starting with introductory courses for women with experience of prison or sectioned under the Mental Health Act, followed by the ten-week ‘Training Company’, and a newly established year-long Further Acting Course, accredited by the London Open College Federation. This later becomes Clean Break’s Access to Theatre in the Community course.
Red by Anna Reynolds tours UK theatres, prisons and probation centres. As Clean Break’s first ‘writer in residence’, Anna runs creative writing workshops, a script reading service and develops a play for the Training Company, called Forbidden Fruit. This becomes the model for how Clean Break work with commissioned writers.
Yard Gal by Rebecca Prichard is co-produced with the Royal Court. Building work on 2 Patshull Road is completed in the summer and the company moves in. The Access to Theatre in the Community course is introduced, offering the equivalent of two A-levels. This creates a pathway for women from Clean Break to go to university.
Apache Tears by Lin Coghlin is performed at BAC and tours nationally. The British Council invites Clean Break to Brussels where Apache Tears is performed in a men’s prison. Breaking In is launched, a 2-year project to train Clean Break students as drama workshop leaders, working with young people at risk of offending and socially excluded groups.
Didn’t Die by Annie Caulfield opens at Arcola Theatre, tours prisons and theatres. Refuge by Dawn Garrigan is developed with and performed by women at HMP Winchester and Winchester University. Student support services expand, and the Women and Anger programme is piloted in prison and at Clean Break.
First Stage begins – a theatre traineeship for Black and Asian women in stage management, sound and lighting. Clean Break’s students create Five Go To Hollywood, a play for women at HMP Holloway as part of their ‘Community Theatre’ module on the Access course. It is performed at HMP Holloway and as the curtain raiser for Mercy Fine at Southwark Playhouse.
This Wide Night by Chloë Moss premieres at Soho Theatre, and goes on tour across the UK, in theatres and women’s prisons and New York. It wins the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Missing Out by Mary Cooper, the first ever graduate tour, in partnership with Action on Prisoners Families tours prisons. Lucy Kirkwood writes Cakehole, performed by Clean Break Access students.
it felt empty when the heart went at first but it is alright now by Lucy Kirkwood is produced at Arcola Theatre. It is developed with director Lucy Morrison through a collaboration with the Poppy Project, which provides support for women trafficked into the UK. The Boiler Room is devised and performed by Clean Break students in collaboration with Imogen Knight of Frantic Assembly. Changing Your Story prison writing project takes place, and the graduate tour A Just Act by EV Crowe is performed at women’s prisons, Crown Courts and the Corston Coalition and Clinks manifesto launch.
Charged, six plays by Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Winsome Pinnock, Rebecca Pritchard, Sam Holcroft, Emma Crowe and Chloë Moss are performed as part of a takeover of Soho Theatre.
The Back on Track project, funded by the Ministry of Justice, sees Clean Break working in Camden custody suites to divert women from offending at an early stage. Clean Break is awarded funding to deliver a series of annual theatre residencies in women’s prisons through The Manchester College
There Are Mountains by Chloë Moss is developed with and performed by women at HMP Askham Grange with actor Zawe Ashton. Phyllida Lloyd stages an all-female production of Julius Caesar at Donmar Warehouse, with Clean Break Patron Dame Harriet Walter DBE and two Clean Break graduates in the cast. It is set in a women’s prison, and part one of the Donmar Warehouse’s Shakespeare Trilogy. Hours til Midnight is the first commission written by a Clean Break graduate, Sonya Hale, and tours to criminal justice partners with a workshop.
Little on the inside by Alice Birch is performed at Latitude Festival, Almeida Festival then tours to Edinburgh Fringe 2014. Billy the Girl by Katie Hims is performed at Soho Theatre, followed by a prison tour. Sounds Like An Insult by Vivienne Franzmann is commissioned by the National Offender Management Service and Department of Health, and becomes the graduate tour for 2014.
Pests by Vivienne Franzmann is co-produced with the Royal Exchange Theatre and Royal Court. Meal Ticket is devised and performed by Clean Break graduates in collaboration with Cathy Naden of Forced Entertainment, at Latitude Festival. Clean Break hosts a Fun Palace, staging a musical inspired by the history of the building, This Is Where We’re From, written by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm. Phyllida Lloyd’s all-female Henry IV is staged at the Donmar Warehouse as part of its Shakespeare Trilogy, with Clean Break graduates in the cast.
House by Somalia Seaton and Amongst the Reeds by Chinonyerem Odimba are performed as a double bill at the Edinburgh Fringe and Yard Theatre. They are developed on Clean Break's Emerging Writers Programme, supported by the Tricycle Theatre (now Kiln Theatre), Bristol Old Vic and Royal Exchange Theatre. Spent by Katherine Chandler is the annual graduate tour. Inside a Cloud by Sabrina Mahfouz is performed by women in HMP Styal as part of a residency co-run by Clean Break and the Irene Taylor Trust.
The Longford Prize is awarded to Donmar Warehouse, Clean Break and York St John University’s Prison Partnership Project for work achieved as part of the all-female Shakespeare Trilogy. Clean Break embarks on an organisational review which culminates in December 2017 with the closing of the education department and the birth of the integrated model, placing Members at the heart of the Company.
Hear by Deborah Bruce is commissioned by Women in Prison to mark the 10-year anniversary of the Corston Review. Written with women at HMP Send, it is performed by two Clean Break Members. Lucy Perman MBE, Chief Executive, is presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Criminal Justice Alliance for outstanding contribution to the sector.
Celebration of 25 years of the Education Programme. Launch of new Members Programme in April 2018 with Processions, a project with Artichoke marking 100 years of women’s suffrage. Thick as Thieves by Katherine Chandler premieres at Theatr Clwyd, then tours to women's prisons, Salisbury Playhouse and Hull Truck. Clean Break receives a Tonic Award for dedication to changing women’s lives through theatre and commitment to new writing.
Clean Break celebrates its 40th Anniversary, and with funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, creates an archive of Clean Break’s history at the Bishopsgate Institute, London. Clean Break co-produces Inside Bitch at the Royal Court, devised by Clean Break Members with Stacey Gregg and Deborah Pearson. Sweatbox goes on UK tour. Alice Birch’s [BLANK] is co-produced with Donmar Warehouse. Clean Break publishes Rebel Voices, an anthology of 40 monologues to celebrate 40 years of producing ground-breaking theatre by women playwrights, Members and women in prison.
Not Pretty Like The Rainbow by Daisy King is Clean Break’s last touring production before closure due to Covid-19. In March the building closes for the first time in over two decades. Responding to the severe impact of Covid on its Members’ lives and women in prisons, Clean Break creates three projects: 2 Metres Apart, Members Online and Write 2 Connect. These connect Members and Artists to respond to the moment; facilitate creative workshops online, contribute to a national digital network of women’s centres; and support Members’ practical, digital, creative, and emotional needs. For the 3,424 women in prison in England and Wales, many of whom are locked in their cells for 23 hours a day and denied visitation, it set up a letter writing programme with words of inspiration, hope and solidarity.
Clean Break’s mission is needed as much now as it was when it was founded. After 42 years, Clean Break remains essential.