CLEAN BREAK was set up in 1979 by two women prisoners who believed that theatre could bring the hidden stories of imprisoned women to a wider audience. Integral to this, is the company’s long-established theatre-based education and training programme enabling women offenders and those at risk of offending to develop personal, social, professional and creative skills leading to education and employment. Behind the scenes, they provide high-quality theatre-based courses, qualifications, training opportunities and specialist support which are critical for the rehabilitation of women offenders in prisons and the community. On the stage, they produce ground-breaking and award-winning plays which dramatise women’s experience of, and relationship to, crime and punishment.
“This Wide Night was inspired by a series of writing workshops run by Chloë Moss and me in HMP Cookham Wood (Prison). We worked with a small group of women, the majority of whom were serving long-term sentences. Through the experience, Chloë and I became interested in the effects of institutionalisation – in doing the best they could do to ‘adjust’ to prison life (as far as anyone can adjust to incarceration), these women had been forced to normalise their surroundings. They created a family immediately around them, a purpose, an identity but in doing that, there lay ahead a future outside of prison increasingly alien and terrifying. This, added to what they had missed while away from their lives outside, made us feel compelled that we had to tell the story of two women grappling with freedom. Chloë dramatises this beautifully by plucking Lorraine, a long-term prisoner right out of prison and dropping her at her former cellmate’s door. The play that unfolds charts their relationship with freedom – expressing the boredom and the hilarity, the love and the stifling dependency, the hope and the bleakness of their reality.”
Lucy Morrison (Head of Artistic Programme for Clean Break)
Visit www.cleanbreak.org.uk to learn more about CLEAN BREAK
In 2006, Clean Break commissioned Chloë Moss to do a 3 month playwrighting residency at HMP Cookham Wood Prison, where she ran workshops with inmates. Lorraine and Marie, the characters in This Wide Night, are inspired by the women she spent time with there.
The play was then produced in 2008 by Clean Break which included a run at Soho Theater, London as well as a prison tour.
It was produced again in 2010 by Naked Angels at The Peter Jay Sharp Theater in Manhattan, starring Edie Falco and Alison Pill, under the direction of Anne Kauffman.
This Wide Night explores the importance and uniqueness of relationships formed in prison: how they can or perhaps cannot exist in another context; and also resettlement- when "freedom" can actually feel like a very bleak and frightening prospect.