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NEWS: Open Clasp's Sugar Streaming On BBC iPlayer

BBC iPlayer to stream new show devised with women who are homeless, on probation or in prison from 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

A probation office, a prison cell and a homeless shelter. Meet Annie, Julie and Tracy, three survivors all ‘doing time’ in very different ways. Three survivors. Three voices seldom heard.

I was always going to end up here... but not anymore. This is my last time.

Presented by Open Clasp - the multi-award winning company behind New York Times Critics’ pick, Key Change - Sugar is an intimate piece of theatre made for the screen, written by Catrina McHugh MBE, directed by Laura Lindow and devised with women who are homeless, on probation or in prison. Sugar launches on BBC iPlayer on 25 November.

Catrina McHugh MBE, Director, Writer and Open Clasp Artistic Director said, “This is an important and urgent piece of theatre, a state of the nation, and it asks audiences to step into the shoes of women and to see the world through their eyes.”

Lamia Dabboussy, Executive Editor of BBC Arts said: “BBC Arts is pleased to be able to bring Sugar to iPlayer – it’s a reminder of the power of theatre, particularly when people are given the opportunity to collaborate with theatre makers to share their own experiences.”

To create Sugar, Open Clasp worked with the Women’s Direct Access Centre in Manchester, West End Women and Girls Centre in Newcastle, HMP Low Newton and national charity Changing Lives. Open Clasp’s mission is to change the world one play at a time, and the company has also formed partnerships with Women’s Aid, Shelter and Agenda Alliance for Women and Girls at Risk to help tackle the stark inequalities that have been further exposed and exacerbated by the pan-demic by continuing to raise awareness of the issues the women who helped to devise Sugar face.

Teresa Parker, Head of Head of Media Relations & Communications at Women's Aid said, Its fantastic news that Sugar will be launching on BBC iPlayer to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women 2020. Our research at Women's Aid has shown the dev- astating impact the pandemic has already had on survivors of domestic abuse — with 91% of women currently experiencing abuse saying it had negatively impacted the abuse in at least one way.

Open Clasp has already reached over 50,000 people with critically acclaimed productions Key Change and Rattle Snake using theatre captured live on film. This new production is the first to be created specifically for the screen and is the company’s first show to be made available on the BBC iPlayer. Filmed before the pandemic, the themes in Sugar and the decision to stream it rather than perform it live to remove some of the barriers to access experienced in traditional theatre spaces feel particularly prescient.

Director Laura Lindow explains, “Creating Sugar as a piece of theatre for the screen 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 beauti- ful theatrical setting sets up different terms for us to encounter them as we step into their worlds.

Sugar is written by Open Clasp Artistic Director, Catrina McHugh MBE and directed by Open Clasp Associate Director, Laura Lindow. Camera Direction and Editing is by Katja Roberts for Meerkat Films, Set and Costume Design is by Verity Quinn, Lighting Design by Ali Hunter and Sound Design by Roma Yagnik. Sugar was created for the screen in partnership with Meerkat Films, in association with Live Theatre and supported by The Space. The cast are Taja Luegaezor Christian, Paislie Reid, Zoe Lambert and Christina Berriman Dawson.

Open Clasp has a unique approach and practice, developed over 20 years collaborating with wo- men on the margins of society to create exciting theatre for personal, social and political change. Their critically acclaimed play Key Change was created with women serving at HMP Low Newton in County Durham. After winning the prestigious Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh award and tour- ing nationally and internationally, it reached a huge audience when it was streamed globally as part of the UN campaign to end violence against women and girls in 2017, and was also performed in the Houses of Parliament. In the same year, Writer and Artistic Director Catrina McHugh was awarded an MBE for outstanding services to disadvantaged women through theatre.

Sugar will launch on BBC iPlayer at 9am on 25 November and the three part series will be available to stream for 12 months

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