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News: Key Change: award-winning New York Times’ Critics Pick to be streamed online for free

Key Change: award-winning New York Times’ Critics Pick to be streamed online for free

As theatres around the world are forced to close their doors, Open Clasp Theatre Company’s award-winning prison drama Key Change will be made available to watch online for free.
Cheryl Dixon as Lucy & Jessica Johnson as Angie in Key Change by Open Clasp
Exquisite★★★★ The Guardian
“A touching, empowering work” ★★★★★ The Stage
A remarkable production★★★★ The Observer
A moving, intimate and superbly acted drama” New York Times Critics’ Pick

Jessica Johnson as Angie & Christina Berriman Dawson as Kelly
Open Clasp has a unique approach and practice, developed over 20 years collaborating with women on the margins of society to create exciting theatre for personal, social and political change. Key Change was created with women serving at HMP Low Newton in County Durham. It originally toured to male prisons, before opening at the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe as part of the Northern Stage at Summerhall programme. After winning the prestigious Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh award it opened in New York to critical acclaim, and the company also presented the show in women’s high-security prisons in both Edinburgh and New York State. A sell out national tour followed back in the UK, including a performance in the Houses of Parliament in partnership with the National Alliance for Arts in Criminal Justice, CLiNKS and the Prison Reform Trust. 

In 2017 Open Clasp teamed up with The Space to capture the play on film, and Key Change was streamed globally as part of the UN campaign to end violence against women and girls. Writer and Artistic Director Catrina McHugh, who was awarded an MBE for outstanding services to disadvantaged women through theatre, explains why the company has now decided to make it available online for free: “In these uncertain times, it’s more important than ever for us to find ways to connect - with our audiences, partners and the women we’ve worked with for more than 20 years. We’ve seen first-hand the power of theatre to bring people together and make change happen, so it's more important than ever that we continue to reach out to those who need our support most in these unsettling times, even if it's digitally rather than physically. If we as a society can learn anything from this crisis it's the need for investment in the NHS, the provision of free childcare, workers’ rights and access to the arts, to stay connected and stand together. During these uncertain times we are not pulling up bridges, we are looking for new ways to walk over troubled water.  Our aim is to change the world one play at a time, but for now we just want to reach out, make people laugh, feel, care and look to a new horizon.

 Judi Earl, Cheryl Dixon, Jessica Johnson & Christina Berriman Dawson (l-r)
Open Clasp have already reached over 45,500 people with their critically acclaimed productions, Key Change and Rattle Snake using theatre captured live on film. Their new production, Sugar is the first to be created specifically for the screen and is due for release in June 2020. Director Laura Lindow explains, “Creating Sugar as a piece of theatre for film has offered us remarkable opportunities to tell these stories in new and different ways. The viewpoint of the camera is powerfully intimate as the characters take us into their confidence. The stark but beautiful theatrical setting sets up different terms for us to encounter them as we step into their worlds. I really hope that the audience will be left sharing the sense of outrage and also inspiration that we as makers have felt.” 

Key Change will be available to watch online from 1pm GMT on 20 March at 
Jessica Johnson as Angie & Christina Berriman Dawson as Kelly
Cast & Creative Team
Writer: Catrina McHugh MBE
Director: Laura Lindow
Choreographer: Holly Irving
Lighting Designer: Ziggy Jacobs-Wyburn
Composer: Roma Yagnik
Cast: Cheryl Dixon, Christina Berriman Dawson, Jess Johnson, Judi Earl, Kate McCheyne & Victoria Copeland

Photos: Keith Pattinson

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