About the project
Help us bring the voices of women in prison - some of the most marginalised women in the UK - to an international audience
Key Change was devised by women in HMP Low Newton working with Open Clasp in 2014, in a project commissioned by Dilly Arts, the only north east arts development company specialising in working with people in prison.
“I first had my experience with Open Clasp when I unfortunately went to prison, a very dark time. These women came in, told me what it was all about – to be strong, have courage, be open about issues in life…they got me through my time in prison.” Cheryl Byron, collaborator on Key Change in HMP Low Newton
It was originally toured to male prisons and is a powerful and illuminating portrayal of the lives of women in prison.
"Brilliant performance and it really reminded me of the man I once was and the hurt I have caused others but also of how far I have come and the man I am now... brilliant." Man in HMP Frankland
About Open Clasp and background to the project
Open Clasp is a movement of women working to bring about personal and social change by creating great theatre. We have a distinctive and truly collaborative process, developed over 17 years of working with marginalised women and young women. In 2013 we were awarded National Emma Humphreys Prize for outstanding contribution in creatively raising awareness of violence against women and children in our work.
Key Change was commissioned by Dilly Arts “We devised the project with the specific aim to take the women’s stories to a male prison and a public audience with as little censorship as possible. It's the most risk-taking work we have undertaken to date and exceeded any of our expectations. Right from the start we wanted Open Clasp to come on board so we could be sure of honouring the women's words in a truthful, empathetic way which would also convey the strength, passion and humour of the women.” Alison Redshaw-Boxwell, Director, Dilly Arts
The UK has one of the highest rates of women’s imprisonment in Western Europe - over 50% of women in prison report having suffered domestic abuse, 1 in 3 has suffered sexual abuse and nearly 40% leave prison homeless. “These are shared themes in the lives of many of the women we work with and therefore a common focus in our work. Key Change continues and builds on this work through our unique brand of hard-hitting, thought-provoking but very funny plays which highlight the women as survivors rather than victims and honour their talent, courage and strength.” Writer and Artistic Director Catrina McHugh
Why are we crowdfunding?
We’re crowdfunding to try and raise 32% of the money it costs us to take Key Change to Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 2015. Your support will:
- Pay for the Artistic Director’s travel to run free workshops with women’s groups in Edinburgh including women involved in the Criminal Justice System
- Give our lovely actors a bed and food to sustain them while they’re in Edinburgh
Testimonials and recommendations
Key Change was named the North East’s ‘Best Devised Piece’ by the British Theatre Guide in 2014.
“Catrina McHugh and company are like fierce, female community warriors – they work tirelessly and passionately with women who do not usually have a voice, and who certainly aren’t used to being heard. What emerge are brilliant, exciting, witty, moving, informative and informed pieces of theatre that speak to us and unite us all.”
"I am blown away by this group of women. The depiction of the story is gripping. The commitment and passion is palpable. You have created, are creating, a powerful, hard-hitting, inspiring, graceful, elegant, important drama. I feel privileged" Charlie Hardwick, Actor and Open Clasp Patron
"I didn’t expect what I saw. I was overwhelmed and brought close to tears a few times. I am a woman who has been a victim of domestic violence and I am elated at your efforts in this cause. Well done everyone involved. You were amazing. Good luck in your future plans, my love and best wishes go with you." Woman in Low Newton
“Open Clasp does something which is not only unique, entertaining and engaging but also incredibly important. They tell stories that need to be heard and they allow their audiences to see the world through unexpected eyes.” Erica Whyman, Deputy Artistic Director, Royal Shakespeare Company & Open Clasp Patron