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Open Clasp Theatre Company Annual Review 2016/2017

Standing tall and taking risks

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Open Clasp Theatre Company Annual Review 2016/2017

< Previous Arts for social change is embedded in what we do; we use the power of theatre to challenge perceptions, changing the world one play at a time.

Working with Open Clasp helped me feel stronger as a person. They showed me I can be and do anything I set my mind to. Also it showed me I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have to try and do everything by myself. There are always people that care, and places I can go for help or just to talk. I am very grateful for everything that we all did together. I have been very depressed and not wanting to carry on with life anymore and these ladies really, really stopped me from being so down. I left everything more focused about my life and myself. 10 out of 10.

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Open Clasp Theatre Company Annual Review 2016/2017

This year we reached over

5,200 people

We have now reached over

68,800

since1998

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Contents

Who we are > Chairâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s comment > Our impact > A word from the Artistic Director > Key Change > SUGAR > Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t Forget the Birds > Rattle Snake > Conferences > Current work >


Open Clasp Theatre Company Annual Review 2016/2017

Who we are We make truthful, risk taking and award-winning theatre informed by the lived experiences of working class women, women disenfranchised in theatre and society, those from minority communities and women affected by the criminal justice system. We take a special interest in women and young women from the North of England, shining a light on their experiences through our work. We make space for debate, encouraging our audiences to walk in the shoes of the most disempowered women in society.

www.openclasp.org.uk

Our work is performed in theatres, prisons, schools, conferences, community and youth centres, and most recently Edinburgh Fringe and off-Broadway to national and international acclaim. It resonates deep into the communities where it is created and outside ensures the under-represented are seen in a new light by both women and men, and those who can make a difference. Our multi-disciplinary approach shapes the work of researchers and leading policy experts. We contribute to regional and national discourse, performing at the Houses of Parliament in 2016 contributing to the Prison Safety and Reform White Paper.

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Open Clasp Theatre Company Annual Review 2016/2017

Chairâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Comment I am delighted to be writing my first introduction to the Open Clasp annual review. Last year was an exceptional one for the company. And the staff team, the community around the organisation and of course the many women who are brave and bold as they share their stories are always brilliant. But this year has also been, in so many ways, extraordinary. As I write, albeit not as this is read, we are about to have a general election. It feels more pertinent than ever that the voices of those women we work with, who have so much to say but are not often heard or celebrated are given a voice on local, national and international stages. At the same time, we are also awaiting the news from Arts

Council England about the outcome of our application for continued financial support for the work we do. It is a limbo period, a pause, a knife edge. And yet we plot and plan, to build on this year with further projects and stronger relationships. You will see in this report the extraordinary projects that we have undertaken this year, and Catrina will talk about the emotional journeys that these represent. I feel this says more than I ever can about the diligence and care that the staff team put into each project, and about how the women are central to everything they do. As Key Change continued to fly on its Autumn national tour, a new project, Sugar premiered. These pieces, in my favourite Open Clasp phrase, agitate for change. They are a direct address to policy makers and the public alike and they are powerful.

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Open Clasp Theatre Company Annual Review 2016/2017

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Chairâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Comment (continued).

The fact that Key Change won Arts Council Award at the Journal Culture Awards, and Open Clasp won North East Small Charity of the Year are testament to this. This industry recognition is important to us as a company, and it feels like a win for the women we work with. In the same way, I am delighted to be able to write here that Catrina has recently been awarded an MBE. In typical style, when she told us, she was keen to say straight away that it was great for the company and for the women. This is of course true. But it is also a fantastic personal achievement and I want to take a moment to categorically state that. I also need to take this opportunity to make a special acknowledgement to a few people who have left us within

this last year. Hazel Davison, our amazing treasurer stepped down after 5 years and Victoria Cooper also moved on to pastures new. As such we welcomed three new board members to the team of trustees; Gillie Robson, Ellen Lefley and Jaheda Choudhury Potter, all brilliant women to guide and support the staff team.

who has been chair of the board since 2010, steering the company through three NPO submissions, numerous staff changes and the ever present challenge of balancing the companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s huge aspirations and sense of responsibility for the women they work with against financial and structural stability. I have big shoes to fill in succeeding her.

At this point I need to break slightly with convention to talk about an impending departure. Jill Heslop, our wonderful, inspiring and unstoppable Creative Producer will step down to take up a PHD. She has been instrumental in every project since she joined in 2013, but most notably Key Change was given its international wings and able to fly because of her tenacity. Likewise, Di Fisher-Naylor,

So, roll on the next year, and all those beyond, as the staff team continue to annotate reams of flip chart paper with colour coded Post-It notes that map out their plans to give voice to marginalised women in the North and change the world, one play at a time.

Jo Cundall Vice Chair


Open Clasp Theatre Company Annual Review 2016/2017

Our impact

of women felt hopeful and motivated

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Winner

100% 91% of women of women felt 96%

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Awards (2016 – 2017)

Feedback from women who devised Sugar

empowered

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felt included “I felt that the women from Open Clasp took time to listen to many of our different situations and stories”

Small Charity of the Year, North East Charity Awards Winner Arts Council Award, The Journal Culture Awards Shortlisted Criminal Justice Alliance Awards


Open Clasp Theatre Company Annual Review 2016/2017

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A word from the Artistic Director Life Imitating Art and Vice Versa We have so much to celebrate this year. Back in 2015 our dream was to tour Key Change nationally, and this year we did it, to sell out audiences and standing ovations for not only the show, but the post show, celebrating both process and product. The tour started with a performance in the Houses of Parliament, at the heart of democracy and we were honoured to share a panel with Baroness Corston, Clean Break and one of our original theatre makers with Key Change, Cheryl Byron. We even got a spot on Woman’s Hour with Jane Garvey (but that’s another story).

We also started a new project, working with three groups, women in Low Newton prison, those on probation in Newcastle, and women who are homeless in Manchester. SUGAR is three stories and at the same time one, beautiful, powerful and full of risk and it previewed to audiences in March 2017. We got to work with Cheryl Byron and her daughter Abigail to create Don’t Forget the Birds, a story of when prison takes a mother from a daughter, and their heartbreak and challenge to find each other again. With SUGAR we got to meet up again with an incredible woman

from the prison, now out, who was able to join us in rehearsals and then on stage at Live Theatre for a post-show discussion. We spent time developing Rattle Snake, a play inspired by real stories and originally created to train police officers in coercive control. Rattle Snake will be touring nationally in Autumn 2017. I have spent time with amazing women, outstanding creative teams, worked alongside the best staff team, felt the strength and support of our Chair and Board of Trustees, and the pride of our Patrons. We won more awards and received

honours. This recognition growing our confidence and propelling us forward to make the best theatre we can, to push open doors and make real our mission to Change the World One Play at a Time. I felt pride, hope and rage during the workshops to make SUGAR and fear, pride and hope during its tour. We took risks, stood tall and in solidarity with the women we worked with. We also lost women this year. Before going to London with Key Change one of our collaborators from a previous project was murdered not ten minutes from our


Open Clasp Theatre Company Annual Review 2016/2017

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Artistic Director’s Comment (Cont.) rehearsal room. We’d met Jodie again when working back in HMP Low Newton with SUGAR, bumped into her in the corridor, it was great and also hard to see her back in prison but she looked well and safe. On release she had been street homeless, and then murdered. It was devastating to hear, and we took Jodie’s name into the Houses of Parliament. Rewind to May, to our workshops with women who are homeless in Manchester and we asked ‘where do you see yourselves in five years?’ and two of them said “dead”. Three days later we got a phone call, one of the other women from the group died. Then when previewing SUGAR we heard that one of the young women from our probation group had also died.

Nothing was natural, everything wrong. We have a lot to celebrate, but the loss of these women also grounds us. The crimes committed against those we work with, as adults and as children, along with the injustice experienced both enrages and fuels our passion. We need to make change a necessity and a reality. I would like to thank all those who put their trust in Open Clasp to tell their stories. They survive experiences that no-one should have to, and many wouldn’t be able to. They are heroes in their own stories to survive.

We dedicated four shows to women we lost this year, the fourth was Mrs Robinson, from West End Women & Girls Centre. Margie was the matriarch and heartbeat of her family, and also a member of Open Clasp, a collaborator on our early plays, her name often mentioned on stage. Her death was natural, but not easy for her family, and those who knew and loved her. I would like to dedicate this year’s work to all survivors. Catrina McHugh MBE


Open Clasp Theatre Company Annual Review 2016/2017

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Key Change Key Change, our multi award-winning play devised with women in prison continues to impact far and wide this year on a national tour.

Our highlights were:

• Performing at the Houses of

Parliament to Parliamentarians and policy makers contributing to the debate about alternatives to prison for women.

• Sharing a panel with Baroness Corston marking 10 years since the Corston Report a landmark review into women in the criminal justice system.

• Returning to perform in HMP

Low Newton where it all began

• A live interview on BBC

Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour

• Visiting new places and

venues including Battersea Arts Centre, Contact Theatre and venues in the South East through house touring network including Farnham Maltings – our first tour beyond the North.

• Touring to over 3,700

people, with sell out audiences and far exceeding our targets.

• 90% of audiences rated Key Change excellent

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Open Clasp Theatre Company Annual Review 2016/2017

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Key Change (Cont.)

I think the play was brilliant – you got it spot on. I think it should be shown to younger children to prevent them coming to jail… And I like the part where you mentioned mental health – its spot on… we need more help with mental health in here. Big respect to you all and I hold my hat off to you. Woman in HMP Low Newton


Open Clasp Theatre Company Annual Review 2016/2017

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SUGAR in its first stage of development Stories which are three and at the same time one. SUGAR exposes the routes into prison, life behind bars and the revolving door that catapults women back. SUGAR was devised by women in HMP Low Newton, Durham, women at Direct Access Homelessness Service, Manchester and women on probation attending a Women’s Hub at West End Women & Girls Centre, Newcastle.

It was toured in a first stage of development over two weeks to celebrate International Women’s Day in March celebrating the strength and resilience of our women collaborators. We were honoured that one of our women from Low Newton prison travelled four hours to join us at Live Theatre for the show and post show.

90%

Audiences were women who had devised the piece in Women’s Direct Access hostel in Manchester, HMP Low Newton and at West End Women & Girls Centre, and public audiences full of friends, family and the wider public gathering feedback, critiques and support.

of audiences rated Sugar excellent, with the remainder rating it good

of audiences felt empathy with characters on stage

85%


Open Clasp Theatre Company Annual Review 2016/2017

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SUGAR (Cont.) SUGAR argues for alternatives for women to prison, argues for better provision of care/support for those released from prison and it also argues for prevention, for a better world, for our eyes to be open and to see.

I was always going to end up in here (prison), Crashing, But not this time, The shame is His, Theirs, And not mine.

Thanks to Professor Maggie O’Neill who joined us at Direct Access to share a walk with one of the women. Maggie’s walking methods and participatory action research resonates strongly with Open Clasp’s work, and together with the theatre offers a vital insight into the women’s lives. The visual essay drawn from this walk, co-written by Maggie and Catrina has been published in the Journal of Social Work Practice.


Open Clasp Theatre Company Annual Review 2016/2017

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Don’t Forget the Birds Thanks to a seed commission from Queens Hall Arts, Hexham and Black Theatre Live we spent a week with a real life mother and daughter to research and develop our new play Don’t Forget the Birds.

Rattle Snake

Don’t Forget the Birds is a true story of a mother and daughter, where prison takes one away from the other, their heartbreak and challenge on release to find each other again.

Supported by Live Theatre, Newcastle and York Theatre Royal we spent one week in research and development for our new production Rattle Snake in December.

We have a long relationship with the mother; a woman who collaborated with us in HMP Low Newton for our multi-award-winning Key Change. During the week both mother and daughter’s talent and raw intensity as actors, driven by their real experiences, shone through.

Rattle Snake is an epic tale, based on real life stories of women who have faced and survived coercive controlling domestic abuse.

////////// FUTURE PLANS //////////////////////////////////////////////////////// Devised with and performed by the real life mother and daughter, Don’t Forget the Birds will be rehearsed in April 2018 and undertake a short tour to venues in the North East of England and London.

Coinciding with the change in UK law in 2015 making coercive control in relationships a crime, Rattle Snake was originally commissioned by Durham University and Durham Constabulary and funded by Durham PCC and the AHRC and is used in the training of frontline police officers. /////////// FUTURE PLANS ////////////////////////////////////////////////// Co-produced with Live Theatre and in association with York Theatre Royal, this sharp, moving and unflinching new play will be on tour in Autumn 2017 to both venues, community and youth centres in the North East and Soho Theatre, London.


Open Clasp Theatre Company Annual Review 2016/2017

Conferences – influencing service providers and decision makers We are committed to engaging with decision makers to create personal, social and political change and are regularly invited to conferences and events to share good practice in the field of participatory theatre and to provide engaging stimulus performances. Key events we have taken part in this year are: • Performing Rattle Snake at the N8 Policing Innovation Forum 2016 in Manchester to delegates made up of Police and Crime Commissioners, academics and the police (both commissioners and frontline) • Performing Rattle & Roll and facilitating workshops around the issues raised in the play at the North East Sex Worker’s Forum’s Regional Learning Day in Newcastle.

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We also facilitated workshops and discussions at a number of conferences and events for a variety of organisations including Arts Council International Briefing Event – Manchester, Northumbria University, Newcastle College, Sunderland University, Everyword New Writing Festival - Liverpool, Rediscovering the Radical conference – Liverpool.

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Training Tools Jumping Puddles Online Our fantastic free online training resource is available for young people and teachers/youth workers to explore issues of homophobic bullying (including cyber bullying) and domestic abuse. The website has downloadable lesson and session plans, film clips, images and sound-bites provided to support KS3 & KS4. www.jumping-puddles.co.uk

Our work is in demand regionally and nationally to tackle pressing contemporary problems. We regularly perform and develop workshops or bespoke commissions to look at specific issues. Current issues we can provide stimulus for include; women exiting prison, drugs and alcohol, sexual exploitation, racism (asylum seekers), domestic violence, sexual violence, same sex sexual violence, homelessness and mental health.

If you would like to work with us, please contact us to discuss ideas.


Open Clasp Theatre Company Annual Review 2016/2017

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Current Work We have some great projects coming up alongside tours of Rattle Snake in Autumn 2017 and Don’t Forget the Birds in May 2018 including a digital approach which will enrich our work to reach wide and diverse audiences.

Key Change

– streamed internationally We have been commissioned by The Space, a partnership between BBC Arts and Arts Council England to stream Key Change across the world on 25th November 2017 coinciding with the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women & Girls. It will then be available on demand throughout the 16 Days of Activism to support and contribute to the campaign ending on Human Rights Day 2017.

The First Time is Free – a play about Child Sexual Exploitation

In 2015 we worked with young people in South East Northumberland to create a play about child sexual exploitation which was performed to an audience of professionals working to make change happen. We have been commissioned by Northumberland Domestic Abuse Project for a second phase working with a new group of young people to perform The First Time is Free and deliver a workshop to Year 9’s in the 16 Northumberland High Schools to raise awareness and support change.

Also watch out for new commissions and plays bubbling and finding their feet.

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Open Clasp Theatre Company Annual Review 2016/2017

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Open Clasp are... Trustees Diane Fisher-Naylor (Chair) Hazel Davison (Treasurer) – retired December 2016 Victoria Cooper - retired March 2017 Jo Cundall (Vice Chair) Selma Dimitrijevic Helen Ferguson Jennifer Hinves Advisors Anna Disley Catherine Donovan Fiona MacPherson Alice Thwaite Karin Young Patrons Charlie Hardwick Carol Tambor Erica Whyman OBE

Staff Actors attending a Women’s Hub at West End Women & Girls Centre. Christina Berriman-Dawson Artistic Director Writer Catrina McHugh Cheryl Marie Dixon Catrina McHugh Creative Producer Judi Earl Director Jill Heslop Jessica Johnson Laura Lindow Company Development Manager Stage Manager/Actor Actors Carly McConnell Kate Lewis Kylie Ann Ford, Christina Administrator Lighting Designer Berriman Dawson, Zoe Lambert Mary Wilson Ziggy Jacobs-Wyburn/ Creative Producer Kate Lewis Jill Heslop Associate Director Composer/Sound Designer Researcher Laura Lindow Roma Yagnik Professor Maggie O’Neill PR and Communications Trailer and film Stage Manager Helen Fussell Isabel Lima Kate Lewis Relationship Manager, Arts Council Trailer music Musical Associate England Natalie Querol Ribbon Road Katie Doherty Print Designer Design Associate Joseph White Key Change Imogen Cloët BSL interpreter Devised with women Assistant to the Director Caroline Ryan from HMP Low Newton Emily Harrison Writer Direct Access photographer Catrina McHugh Sugar Joanne Knight Director Devised with women in HMP Production photographer Laura Lindow Low Newton, Women’s Direct Phyllis Christopher Access Homelessness Service Creative Producer and women on probation Jill Heslop


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Open Clasp are... (cont). Rattle Snake Women who shared their experiences Writer Catrina McHugh Director Charlotte Bennett Actors Kathryn Beaumont Eilidh Talman Don’t Forget the Birds Actors Cheryl Byron Abigail Byron Writer Catrina McHugh Director Laura Lindow Assistant Director Jessica Johnson Conference performances Director Ruth Johnson Actors Kathryn Beaumont Natalie Jamieson

Viktoria Kay Eilidh Talman

Thanks Sugar Women’s Direct Access Homelessness Service (especially to Tricia, Jane, Carol, Debbie and Fiona), HMP Low Newton, Huffty and West End Women and Girls Centre and Laura Seebohm and Changing Lives. Jessica Johnson and Cheryl Marie Dixon, Contact Theatre, Duncan and Arts Centre Washington, Louise Gregory, James Froment, Craig Hawkes and Mark Gibson. For accommodation in Manchester Tricia, Sian, Joanne, Jill and Carol. The Best Girl in 60 Streets, Karen McHugh and thanks to Janet Cooper. Key Change National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance Clinks Prison Reform Trust

Agenda (Alliance for Women and Girls at Risk) Chi Onwurah MP Rosie Morris Laura Seebohm Rattle Snake Live Theatre York Theatre Royal Don’t Forget the Birds Queens Hall Hexham Black Theatre Live Conferences & Guest Lectures Everyword – Liverpool Everyman Theatre North East Sex Workers conference Regional Learning Day Northumbria University Newcastle College Policing Innovation Forum 2016 Rediscovering the Radical Sunderland University

Thanks also to Nicholas Baumfield Mark Butcher Gillian Firth Amelia Henderson Kay Hepplewhite Kent Lawson Adam Lopardo Gill Lowing Bob McKee Maggie O’Neill Caroline Patterson Max Roberts Victoria Symes Ellie Turner Carole Wears Arts Council England Linhope Pupil Referral Unit Skimstone Arts Twisting Ducks West End Women and Girls Centre


Open Clasp Theatre Company Annual Review 2016/2017

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Thanks... (cont). Funders & Donors Open Clasp operates with significant support from grants and donations. This year support has been received from 1772 Charity Arts Council England Community Foundation serving Tyne & Wear and Northumberland Kidron Hall Charitable Trust Linden Family Fund Newcastle Cultural Investment Fund Regional Theatre Young Directors Scheme The Hadrian Trust The Hokey Cokey Fund Womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Fund Some donors wish to remain anonymous, but we are no less grateful to them.

Thank you.

Do you shop online? Do it through easyfundraising.org.uk and raise a free donation for Open Clasp every time you shop: www.easyfundraising.org.uk/ causes/openclasp For more way to support us and help make womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s voices heard please see our website www.openclasp.org.uk or contact us at the office.


Open Clasp Theatre Company Annual Review 2016/2017

Open Clasp Theatre Company The Stephenson Building 173 Elswick Road Newcastle upon Tyne NE4 6SQ Tel. 0191 272 4063 Email. info@openclasp.plus.com Web. www.openclasp.org.uk @OpenClasp Open Clasp Theatre Co Registered Company Number 05137687 Registered Charity Number 1108000

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Open Clasp Annual Review 2016 - 2017  

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