Project Description


An intimate piece of theatre made for film

Written by Catrina McHugh MBE

Directed by Laura Lindow

Filmed by Meerkat Films

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

A probation office, a prison cell, a homeless shelter… Sugar is set in an abstract world where we meet three women all ‘doing time’ in very different ways, caught in a waiting space of continuous floors and revolving doors. Three survivors. Three voices seldom heard.

Meet Annie, Julie and Tracy as we circle around their stories in an unflinching trilogy which honours the hard realities of lives lived in and around the system.

Presented by Open Clasp Theatre Company, the award-winning company who brought you Key Change and Rattle Snake and in association with Live Theatre, Sugar is an intimate piece of theatre made for film, devised with women who are homeless, on probation or in prison.

Keep a look out for the film release in June 2020

Sugar previewed a First Stage Development tour in 2017. Building on the success of their relationship with HMP Low Newton, Durham, during Key Change, Open Clasp returned to the prison in with a new project. They were one of three groups, the other being women in a hostel providing emergency accommodation in Manchester and women on probation attending a Women’s Hub in Newcastle (West End Women & Girls Centre and Changing Lives).

These three groups have common themes running throughout; childhood sexual abuse, domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness, along with a lack of provision to support women with complex needs.

‘This project for us has been a life-changing experience. This work matters, we learn so much from working together with people who are at the margins of society, those who are at their most vulnerable and in need of support, care and empathy.

We have a responsibility to ensure that their voices are heard and that change is agitated for. We said to the women they deserve a medal, as they survive experiences that no one should ever have to and many wouldn’t be able to. They are strong, courageous, and intelligent, and they deserve, in the words of one woman, ‘to have memories that are positive for a change’. They are the change makers, they invest their time, take risks and stand tall. We meet these women as equals, standing in solidarity and together we make change happen.” Catrina McHugh MBE, Writer and Artistic Director of Open Clasp

‘Resilient people don’t walk between raindrops; they have the scars to show their experiences. They struggle but keep functioning anyway – resilience isn’t the ability to escape unharmed, it’s not about magic….’