Rattle Snake

Written by Catrina McHugh MBE

Directed by Charlotte Bennett

A co-production between Open Clasp and Live Theatre

The women in the Open Clasp production walked right out of the pages of my book. The characters come alive, elicit compassion, cry out for justice. We feel the magic go out of them. The play compels discussion and response. This is living theatre at its best.” Evan Stark, expert on coercive control and writer of Coercive Control: How Men Entrap Women in Personal Life (Interpersonal Violence)

An epic tale based on real-life stories of women who have faced and survived coercive controlling domestic abuse.

Spine-tingling and visceral, Rattle Snake will literally take your breath away. A story with no ending; a chance meeting with one man changes the lives of two women forever. Now they both live trying to predict the unpredictable.

Now a captured film, Rattle Snake has been watched online by over 27,000 people online and used by over 100 organisations as part of training/awareness raising.

Building a world free from gender & sexual violence is an urgent issue for our communities. We respond, with action; Rattle Snake has been viewed by more than 27k people in 35 countries since it participated in the 2019 UN Campaign to End Violence Against Women & Girls with Rattle Snake BSL and Arabic Subtitles. It is licensed to organisations and workers supporting victims of gendered violence, to educate staff and policy makers across the Criminal Justice System and has been used by the company to train, using theatre and drama techniques, 2300 people (to date) in Coercive Controlling Behaviours including police forces and social workers.

For example, following a longstanding relationship with a creative team in Brazil, our model was adopted by them to produce our play Rattle Snake for a Portuguese speaking audiences, Cascavel. Produced by Moira Produções Artísticas, translated into Brazilian Portuguese by Diego Teza we mentored their screen capture and distribution model (due to the pandemic) involving public and specialist audiences in response to a 431% spike in domestic violence cases in 2020 compared to 2019.

Our powerful film can be used to train work forces in coercive control or as part of a conference. To use the film to raise awareness within your workforce, please email Ellie at info@openclasp.org.uk

Based on research identifying gaps in police understanding of coercive control by Professor Nicole Westmarland and Kate Butterworth (Durham University) and the impact of arts-based research interventions by Professor Maggie O’Neill (University College Cork), Rattle Snake was created by Open Clasp and funded by Durham PCC and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to train frontline officers in better responding to sexual and domestic violence – coinciding with the change of lawmaking coercive control in relationships a crime in 2015.

“Fantastic course, best I’ve ever been on. Actual awareness of the subject matter. May it be rolled out to everyone!” Cleveland Police, feedback

“Thought-provoking. The day opened a gateway to seeing and perceiving some things in a different light. A great positive amongst the negatives in my daily role.” Cleveland Police, feedback

Read about how Catrina McHugh MBE created Rattle Snake here

Anna Reid discusses her inspiration for the set of Rattle Snake here

Click HERE for Sources of Information and Support

Read about our training in coercive control using Rattle Snake: Theatre production will help Cleveland Police handle domestic abuse – Northern Echo

Continuing their long association with Live Theatre, in 2017 and 2018 Rattle Snake toured nationally to critical acclaim. The company partnered with Women’s Aid, academics, Durham PCC Ron Hogg, politicians and regional front-line services such as Changing LivesWest End Women and Girls Centre and EVA Women’s Aid, Redcar to discuss coercive control in post-show discussions.

An Open Clasp and Live Theatre production, originally produced in association with York Theatre Royal (2017). Originally funded by Arts Council England, The Newcastle Cultural Investment Fund through the Community Foundation and the Austin and Hope Pilkington Trust.