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Clean Break

  • Date: 1 October 2009
  • Artform: Theatre
  • Area: London
Clean Break’s This Wide Night by Chloe Moss at Soho Theatre, July 2009. The production will be restaged with a new cast in November 2009. Clean Break’s This Wide Night by Chloe Moss at Soho Theatre, July 2009. The production will be restaged with a new cast in November 2009.

2009 marks 30 years for Clean Break, a theatre, education and new writing company that uses theatre for personal and political change. Its is the only theatre organisation in the UK for women whose lives have been directly affected by the criminal justice system. Clean Break’s Executive Director Lucy Perman MBE tells us about a series of new productions to celebrate their 30th anniversary.

‘This Autumn Clean Break celebrates its 30th anniversary with a packed season of productions, education projects, readings and talks. Set up by two prisoners in 1979, Clean Break has remained true to its roots as a women’s theatre company continuing to inspire playwrights and audiences around the complex theme of women and crime. Integral to this, the company’s long-established theatre-based education and training programme enables women in prisons and offenders, and those at risk in the community to develop personal, social, professional and creative skills leading to education and employment.

‘The treatment of women by the criminal justice system continues to be of pressing concern and was highlighted by the Government’s recent Corston Report, which aligns with Clean Break’s vision to ensure women are not criminalised unjustly nor imprisoned unnecessarily. Over the past 30 years we have used theatre to put the issue of women in prison firmly on the cultural map and to reveal the damage caused by the failures of the criminal justice system.

‘Our new production takes a broader look at the criminalisation of women and focuses on women trafficked into prostitution. it felt empty when the heart went at first but it is alright now by our Resident Playwright, Lucy Kirkwood, is exciting and ambitiously staged production taking audiences through a series of spaces at Arcola Theatre 7-31 October www.arcolatheatre.com

This will be followed by a revival of Chloë Moss’s award-winning play This Wide Night at Soho Theatre 24 November–5 December www.sohotheatre.com

Extra events planned include a reading of North Circular as part of the South Bank Koestler Exhibition. Written by women from three prisons with Lucy Kirkwood, the play has just won Koestler’s Bronze Award for Stage Plays.

In recent months we have also collaborated with Frantic Assembly, which provided the movement direction for our Access to Theatre student performance and with Hampstead Theatre where we co-delivered a scriptwriting course for women at risk. Receiving regular funding from Arts Council England, London has enabled us to increase our artistic activity and to develop new partnerships such as these.

Other projects coming up include: a relaunch of our young offenders project - Miss Spent, being rolled out into custodial settings; new project A Just Act commissioned from London Probation and touring to magistrates to highlight the impact of short-term custodial sentences with a cast of former Clean Break students; and Birdcage - a series of commissions on urgent issues affecting women within the criminal justice system.

Lucy Perman MBE, Executive Director, Clean Break

For more information on Clean Break visit www.cleanbreak.org.uk or phone: 020 7482 8600

Clean Break is one of Arts Council England, London’s regularly funded organisations receiving £220,000 in 2008/2009, £225,940 in 2009/2010 and £232,040 in 2010/2011. Our funding supports artistic and core costs.