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Clean Break have been awarded the 2016 Longford Prize for their collaboration with the Donmar Warehouse and York St John’s University

Clean Break have been awarded the 2016 Longford Prize for their collaboration with the Donmar Warehouse and York St John’s University

We are delighted to share the news that the 2016 Longford Prize has been awarded jointly to Unlock and the Shakespeare Trilogy Project. The Shakespeare Trilogy Project comprises of the Donmar Warehouse, Clean Break and York St John’s University, with the winners being awarded for work carried out over the last four years in women’s prisons and as part of the Donmar’s all-female Shakespeare Trilogy.

The Longford Prize recognises the contribution of an individual, group or organisation working in the area of penal or social reform in showing outstanding qualities in the following areas: humanity, courage, persistence and originality.

It is awarded annually by a prize committee on behalf of the trustees and patrons of the Longford Trust. From 2016, the prize winner will receive £5,000, thanks to sponsorship from The McGrath Charitable Trust, founded by Kevin and Kate McGrath. The awards’ ceremony took place as part of the annual Longford Lecture on Wednesday 16th November, and the award was received on behalf of all three organisations by cast member and Clean Break graduate Jennifer Joseph. The Longford Prize is organised in association with The Prison Reform Trust, for more information visit www.longfordtrust.org.

Clean Break has worked alongside The Donmar Warehouse at each stage of its all-women, prison-set Shakespeare trilogy. All three productions have starred Clean Break patron, Dame Harriet Walter alongside performances from graduates of Clean Break’s education programme.

In this final year of the trilogy, Clean Break collaborates with the Donmar on a project that sees a group of young women working with both companies to explore the links between the lives of Shakespeare’s characters and the lives we live today, creating a brand new piece of theatre by blending Shakespeare’s text with their own words.

The programme will climax by giving students an opportunity to perform their own original work on the Donmar stage on 2nd December.

“The all-female casts and prison setting make you see the three plays afresh. The double focus of seeing them through the lives of the prisoners playing the characters is invigorating… By the end, as Walter sits alone in her cell, you can’t help weeping for the lives lost to the injustices of our prison system and the way we all make prisons for ourselves. This is genuinely art to enchant.” – Lyn Gardner, reviewing the Trilogy in the Guardian.

Find out more about their win by clicking here

Clean Break’s Longford Award comes a month after an event held at the Houses of Parliament by the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance (NCJAA) in collaboration with Clinks, the Prison Reform Trust and Agenda: Alliance for Women and Girls at Risk. The event, which sought to help parliamentarians and policy makers to understand the complex journey many women face when they come into contact with courts and prisons, saw a performance of Open Clasp Theatre Company’s Key Change, which shares the lives of four women who have been through the justice system. You can read NCJAA Chair Alison Frater’s blog about the event here.