Not Farming – Jane Garvey

I was taken aback by Jane Garvey’s use of the word ‘farming’ on Woman’s Hour when asking how we had worked with women in Low Newton prison. Farming suggests a detachment, and an intention to pick and sell. Open Clasp’s methodology is collaborative and democratic, working with women to create the best theatre we can to change the world. The communities we have worked with over the last 18 years know this, so only a little shaken, not stirred but it needs a response (as even if Jane’s choice of words was a little ‘joke’ Jane did underpin the question with ‘but isn’t that what you are doing’).

This could reflect on the company, our intention, ethics and politics, plus it’s not accurate! So not farming Jane, we stand in solidarity with the women we work with ‘Give me a lever and a place to stand and I (we) will move the world’.  That’s what Key Change and Open Clasp did yesterday, the place being the Houses of Parliament, taking the voices of women into the heart of democracy. Standing together with women sharing experiences of violence and injustice. Cheryl spoke of how, after telling the judge that her mother had dementia and if she was sentenced her mother wouldn’t remember her, aged 46 and only her first offence (non violent), she got three years. Separated from her daughter and a family fractured.

We told of Jodie Wilkinson, a young woman we worked with on a previous show, released from prison a few months ago, homeless and murdered not ten minutes from where Open Clasp rehearsed Key Change.

We stand together with all those who want to see change for women, families and communities impacted by the criminal justice system and demand that an alternative to prison becomes a reality and we tackle the route cause that leads many women to prison, that being domestic violence and childhood sexual abuse.

Open Clasp never farms we stand united with all those who experience discrimination and oppression, and aim to Change the World one play at a time

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