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News: Birthday Honours for Open Clasp Artistic Director

Birthday Honours for Open Clasp Artistic Director

Catrina McHugh receives MBE for outstanding services to disadvantaged women through theatre

Driven by a passionate belief that great theatre can bring about social change, Catrina McHugh co-founded Open Clasp in 1998. Open Clasp is a multi award-winning women’s theatre company based in the North East who collaborate with women on the margins of society to create exciting theatre for personal, social and political change. Their work is directly informed by the lived experiences of women and rooted in the belief that theatre changes lives.

Catrina McHugh
Originally from Liverpool but now based in the West End of Newcastle, Catrina McHugh has unparalleled experience of working creatively with the most disenfranchised women to create risk-taking, exciting theatre. On receiving the MBE for outstanding services to disadvantaged women through theatre she said, “This honour values the important and vital role theatre plays in celebrating the strengths and resilience of women, those who survive experiences that no-one should have to and many wouldn't be able to. This honour is theirs, they are heroes in their own story to survive and I am honoured to have had their trust, and to tell their stories.

Open Clasp tour regionally, nationally and internationally, providing powerful stimulus for discussion and debate. Recent work includes the critically acclaimed Key Change which was created with women in HMP Low Newton in County Durham. Written by Catrina McHugh and directed by Laura Lindow, the play originally toured to male prisons before moving audiences and critics alike at the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe, going on to win the prestigious Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award with a New York premiere in January 2016 receiving a New York Times Critics’ Pick.

The company also presented the show in women’s high-security prisons in both Edinburgh and New York State and, true to their mission to “change the world one play at a time”, to key decision- and policy-makers at the Houses of Parliament in October 2016 in partnership with the National Alliance for Arts in Criminal Justice, CLiNKS and the Prison Reform Trust, contributing to the Prison Safety and Reform White Paper.

Open Clasp are delighted to confirm Key Change has now been commissioned by The Space - a partnership between the BBC and Arts Council England to get more people participating in the arts. The Space will stream Key Change on 25 November 2017 as part of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, designated by the United Nations. Upcoming projects include Rattle Snake which will tour in Autumn 2017. 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, funded by Durham PCC and is used in the training of frontline police officers.

A sharp, moving and unflinching new play based on the real life stories of women who have faced and survived coercive control in domestic abuse, Rattle Snake is an exciting new co-production between Live Theatre and Open Clasp. Written by Catrina McHugh and directed by Charlotte Bennett who has directed at the National Theatre, Live Theatre, York Theatre Royal, Northern Stage and Latitude Festival, Rattle Snake will premiere at Live Theatre in Newcastle (21-30 Sept, 2017) before transferring to York Theatre Royal and Soho Theatre, London, with more tour dates to be confirmed.

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