On the 4th June, we celebrated two decades of Changing the World, One Play at a Time with Newcastle University, national and international academics, members, supporters, actors, staff, creatives and facilitators, past and present.

“The room was one big celebration of those twenty years. A celebration of plays performed in theatres, prisons, schools, conferences, community centres, at the Fringe and on Broadway. Not only archives curated by staff of Newcastle University, but also a gathering of women. Women who have been directly involved with Open Clasp (such as past cast members) and those who have supported the company. The room was buzzing with chat and laughter.” Wendy Errington

As part of our 20th birthday celebrations, Open Clasp opened it’s doors and deposited its archive at Newcastle University. We’re now working with the University to preserve the legacy of the company and to demonstrate the value and significance of all the work we have done and continue to do.

The day was a huge celebration of family and friends capturing and expressing Open Clasp’s unique ethos and values and sharing memories in our home, West End Women and Girls Centre. Artistic Director, Catrina McHugh MBE, kicked off the morning session using the company’s methodology to explore how people felt about the company. Catrina asked questions like “what is she most proud of?” who is her family?” and “in 100 years time how would she want people to remember her or understand her?” and prompted conversations on how the Open Clasp archive can be an open and accessible one to the local community.  

In the afternoon, we shared mini-exhibitions and installations of 20 years of work, displaying the past productions, projects and company history. Projects included Songlines, Key Change, Swags and Tails, don’t forget the birds, Rattle and Roll, After Her Death, Tonic and many, many more.

This was followed by visual artist, Kate Sweeney’s ‘Traces in the Script‘, a beautiful short film about Cheryl and Abigail Byron sharing their don’t forget the birds scripts and how they delved into the process of telling their story on stage to an audience. The day came to a close with prosecco and birthday cake and much discussion on what will happen to the archive next…

A big thank you to everyone who came, contributed, volunteered and supported the company, it’s work and legacy.

To read more about the archive, please read Tracey Sinclair’s blog HERE and Wendy Errington’s blog HERE to get a flavour for the day!

Photos by Phyllis Christopher