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About us

About us

We are a multi award-winning women’s theatre company seen as exemplars in our field with a proven track-record of success since 1998. Our unique approach and practice collaborates with women on the margins of society to create exciting theatre for personal, social and political change.

Our work is directly informed by the lived experiences of the women and young women we work with and rooted in the belief that theatre changes lives. Based in the North East of England we have a national and international reach.

We are committed to working in partnership and sharing good practice, engaging with policy-makers providing vital first-hand research, evaluation and recommendations.

Our Values:

  • To collaborate with some of the country’s most marginalised women and young women, placing their lived experience at the centre of our creative processes
  • Ensure the voices of those women are heard by audiences including policy makers
  • Make space for discussion, debate and critical conversations
  • Promote respect, equality and inclusion
  • To reflect the diversity of the North of England
Our staff:

Catrina McHugh - Artistic Director and Writer
Jill Heslop - Creative Producer
Carly McConnell - Company Development Manager
Mary Wilson - Administrator

Our Patrons:

Charlie Hardwick, Actor and Philanthropist
Carol Tambor, Chair, The Carol Tambor Theatrical Foundation; Portrait Painter
Erica Whyman, Deputy Artistic Director, Royal Shakespeare Company

Our Board:

Jo Cundall - Arts Programme Manager, Gala Theatre, Durham County Council
Vice Chair:
Jennifer Hinves - Creative Project Management

Jaheda Choudhury-Potter - Artist
Selma Dimitrijevic - Director and Writer, Greyscale
Helen Ferguson - Freelance arts practitioner and project manager
Gillian Firth
Ellen Lefley - Barrister
Gillie Robson - Solicitor, Ben Hoare Bell

Associate Director:
Laura Lindow

Our Advisors:
Professor Catherine Donovan, Sunderland Univerity
Anna Disley, Programme Director, New Writing North
Fiona MacPherson, Programme Leader BA (Hons) Drama, Northumbria University
Alice Thwaite, Director of Development,Equal Arts
Karin Young, Writer

Why are we involved with Open Clasp:
To be part of something which is making a real difference by creating brilliant theatre and art

Open Clasp prioritise the things that I think are important in life, wellbeing, fairness/inclusion/arts.  And sets high standards which the company is well respected for.

Because I passionately believe that this company creates great theatre that can change lives. I believe in this company, its staff, Board, partners and collaborators

Because it inspires, challenges and excites me, in my professional and personal life.  The ethos is so strong and runs right through the company and because it's full of laughter and humanity.

Belief in the mission – voice of women and girls.  Making contribution -  Open Clasp have a supportive board/staff team. Words to describe Open Clasp: calm and storm, Belief, change, social change, supportive, looking outside own self. Making a difference, the ethos.  Challenges, laughter and humour

Because I value the work Open Clasp do – that women are empowered. It doesn’t happen enough. Its unique. Because it is important to me to look out beyond the walls of the building based organisation that is my day job. Because I feel valued and appreciated by the organisation and it feels good to contribute

To support the work of an organisation that is supporting and instigating change on a cultural level.  I enjoy the vibrancy and ‘challenge’ of widening ‘my mind’ and ‘the minds of others’ to be more respectful of others and their life challenges

Open Clasp are passionate about achieving social change through popular and high quality theatre and that is an exciting but challenging mission that I am passionately interested in supporting them to do.

Critics Pick "a moving, intimate and superbly acted drama about women’s lives in a British prison" New York Times
★★★★ "Exquisite... Singing with an everyday poetry as if the devising process had unlocked a waterfall of creativity" Lyn Gardner, The Guardian
★★★★★ "A touching, empowering work that hits the hat-trick of great script, direction and performance" The Stage
"Open Clasp is truly a treasure of the north east that must be supported and encouraged to become a treasure of the nation" British Theatre Guide
"Open Clasp have the balls, the brains and above all, the sense of humour, to tackle issues in a fresh and beguiling way" Metro
"Open Clasp’s work shows a grass roots radicalism and genuine commitment, coupled with professionalism" British Theatre Guide