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Cast announced for Rattle Snake

Cast announced for Rattle Snake

Open Clasp and Live Theatre in association with York Theatre Royal present:

Rattle Snake

New play tackling coercive controlling domestic abuse from the makers of critically-acclaimed prison drama Key Change

A sharp, moving and unflinching new play based on the real life stories of women who have faced and survived coercive control in domestic abuse, Rattle Snake is an epic tale and an exciting new co-production between Open Clasp and Live Theatre touring in autumn 2017.

The follow up to the critically-acclaimed Key Change, recipient of the prestigious Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award and a New York Times Critics’ Pick, Rattle Snake is written by Catrina McHugh MBE and directed by Charlotte Bennett, associate director at Soho Theatre.

Coinciding with the change in UK law in 2015 making coercive control in relationships a crime, Rattle Snake was originally commissioned by Durham University and Durham Constabulary, funded by Durham PCVC and is used in the training of frontline police officers.

PC Tony Miley was one of 398 officers at Durham Constabulary who took part in the training with Open Clasp. He said, “This was, by a country mile, the most engaging, impactful and thought provoking training session I have had in my fourteen year career in the police. Very emotive topic and excellently portrayed by the two tremendously talented actors - it blew my socks off!”

Durham Police, Crime & Victims’ Commissioner Ron Hogg said: “This play provided an innovative approach to training here in Durham. It provided front-line officers with a unique opportunity to learn through theatre, so that they would further understand coercive control in domestic abuse, and the day-to-day incidents which victims suffer though this appalling crime.”

As with Key Change which was created with women serving at HMP Low Newton in County Durham, Rattle Snake was inspired by the women who put their trust in Open Clasp to tell their stories. Writer and Artistic Director Catrina McHugh explains, “I’m at once delighted that Rattle Snake will reach a wider audience, feel the potential for change in the air and at the same time my heart aches with rage as the reality for so many women.  Imagine a life where you live with your doors and windows locked, one where you can’t breathe the air of a free person, constantly looking over your shoulder, wondering if this day is the last for you and your children…..This is the reality of coercive control in domestic abuse.   During the training officers sat in bullet proof vests daring us to make an impact and we did, now we take it to a national audience. It was a total honour to collaborate with the women who inspired the story.  I believe that Rattle Snake is important theatre, it takes your breath away and will change lives.”

Christina Berriman-Dawson will play Suzy. Christina was one of the cast of four in Open Clasp’s hit play Key Change, and has also worked with Director Charlotte at Forward Theatre. Eilidh Talman, one of the original cast members in the police training sessions, will play Jen.

Director Charlotte Bennett said, “I’m thrilled to be returning to work with Open Clasp again. Their commit-ment to representing marginalised women's voices makes them one of the most important theatre companies making work in the UK today and I feel honoured to be directing this new show which brings a voice to survivors of coercive control. I can't wait to share this story with audiences across the UK and shed an even bigger light on a company who deserve all the recognition they can get.”

Graeme Thompson, Creative Producer, Live Theatre added, “Following the success of Key Change at Live Theatre, Live Theatre is delighted to continue its long association with Open Clasp to present Rattle Snake, an important new play based on the true stories of women who have suffered and survived controlling relationships. We are delighted that this co-production will also tour to be seen by audiences at Theatre Royal York, and Soho Theatre, London.”

Rattle Snake will premiere at Live Theatre in Newcastle (21-30 Sept, 2017) before transferring to York Theatre Royal (17-21 October) and Soho Theatre, London (23-28 October, with more tour dates to be confirmed.

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