Walking at dusk – SUGAR rehearsals Week 2


Monday and outside the country’s protesting and parliament’s debating Trump and Brexit.  We gather in the rehearsal room upstairs at West End Women & Girls Centre. We talk about the ways in which people gather and protest, echo chambers and the role Open Clasp plays in making change happen – this is something we all witness during the process to create the work, collaborating with the women, in prison, on probation and in hostels (for SUGAR) and then during the tours, through post show discussion and workshops make space for debate and  call to arms, for action and change.

Wednesday we have a guest – one of the women we collaborated with in Low Newton (now released and living in a hostel) travelled four hours by train to join us in rehearsals. Her input key to the truth in the story telling.

We met at the train station, met with the staff team, walked around the park, showed off the women’s centre then joined Laura and the cast.

We shared the scenes, beautiful songs and all our hopes for the piece.   We learnt that for this woman, being honest is key to surviving life on the outside, telling people her story, the truth and moving forward.  One of the things she likes about being outside is walking, at dusk as night falls.  She tells us, this is her last chance, if she falls again, goes back to jail, she won’t get the support she’s getting now; that this moment is hers to seize.

She shares her biggest fear, of time and it slipping through her fingers.  She’s changed, is grateful to Low Newton, the support and the opportunity to change, and she’s grasping it with both hands.  She’s proud of SUGAR, has shared the script with probation, staff and her family, and she should be, its powerful and will impact on audiences, communities both in prison and on the outside.

We were so very honoured to have her in the room with us, a total privilege and we look forward to her joining us up on stage at Live Theatre on the 10th March  where SUGAR, in first stage development will be previewed.


The Haircut, Coffee and Sugar


First blog of 2017 and its about SUGAR our new show to be previewed in March.

It’s a first stage development production, which means just that, its in its first stages of development.

Who is the cast? We have the brilliant Zoe Lambert, Kylie Ann Ford and Christina Dawson. The lovely and extremely talented Laura Lindow is the director, Katie Doherty is working with Laura on the song that lies within the piece and Emily Harrison is the Assistant to the Director. The utterly exceptional Jill Heslop is Creative Producer for the project and next week we will be joined by the lovely Kate McCheyne (Stage Manager), as well as two of the women we collaborated with on the piece, one woman from Low Newton prison (out now) and the other from the women’s hub (supporting women on probation). I think that’s everyone.

So the story so far…

Laura and I spent the weekend prior to rehearsals emailing, back and forth with edits and amendments to the script in preparation for Day One.

Day One – We enter the rehearsal room at West End Women & Girls Centre and the very lovely Mary Wilson (our administrator) has put on a spread of cakes and treats, the aroma of coffee and the sound of laughter fills the room – it was a good start.

Laura introduces the project and together we speak about the workshops and the collaborators who are key to the storytelling of SUGAR. The actors look, listen and ask questions. There is a lot to communicate and take in.

Pencils are given out, Laura says ‘right lets read the script’ and stabs herself in the hand with a very sharp pencil. I’m the first aider – rewind – during the introductions I’ve told the story of how I’m a little Catherine Tate when I see injuries, but I’m alright with this one, I’ve got it – Emily reassures me that pencils are no longer made of lead, its granite now and its fine. Laura washes her hand, I bandage it and a sling is sent for (kidding)!

Ok so what happened on day one

I’m always nervous, doesn’t matter if the feedback for the script is good, I’m nervous and at times paranoid. I know the feeling, have felt it before and I’m confident it will pass, want to fast forward to that moment when everyone is happy with the script and it enables the room to flood with creativity and ideas, not got stuck in pot holes and puddles.

The script is read, and games are played. In the afternoon questions are asked and we return to the script and then its home time. Wine is needed!

Day Two – much better. I wake at 6am and start to edit, I like the hair cut the script is getting, am enjoying combing through, being brave in the cuts and wanting to ensure the finish is of top quality. We have one actor today, but that’s OK as SUGAR is a story of three and at the same time one. We spend the morning with a character called Tracy, and we’re transformed back to the hostel in Manchester to the women we met, tears and laughter, along with plates of hot food. It’s a good morning.

In the afternoon, I go back to my desk and phone. I speak to the woman who’s been released from Low Newton, we’re trying to get her up for the performance at Live Theatre, to join the panel, but we need to cross some T’s and dot some I’s first. Laura is joined by Katie, and the song in the piece is heard for the first time… its exciting, so very exciting.

Later Laura and I go over the timeline of one of the characters Julie, we rewind, fast forward and then see a gap. In the edits a vital piece of the story has gone, is missed. I find the line, words and this morning Day Three I’m more than pleased with the save made.

Day Three – We’re sharing two of the actors with another show, so today I’ve been back on script, the final, final edits (for now), Laura’s at home and sometimes on the phone, email, talking with Jill, finding answers, ideas and opportunities. All heads are buzzing and whirring.

Tomorrow is day four and the song of the piece will be unleashed.