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Project information

Sweatbox: An Immersive Theatre Experience

With your support, we want to engage audiences across the UK in our immersive theatre piece Sweatbox. Performed by three women with lived experience of the criminal justice system, in a prison van, audiences will hear, discuss and debate the hidden stories of women in the criminal justice system.

June 2019 - December 2019

Charity information: Clean Break

Clean Break logo
  • Need


    The treatment of women by the criminal justice system is one of the clearest demonstrations that our society is still unequal. A range of complex, interlinked issues frequently underpin women’s offending (e.g. mental health, substance misuse, domestic violence), trapping them in a cycle of crime and vulnerability. For things to change, their stories need to be given a platform.


    Three Clean Break Members (women with lived experience of the criminal justice system) and a prison van will travel the country in 2019, Clean Break’s 40th Anniversary, performing our immersive and critically acclaimed production Sweatbox by Chlöe Moss. Using the intrigue of a displaced prison van we will tell the stories of women in the criminal justice system, by not only inviting audiences into the van for performances of Sweatbox but through open discussion and debate.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Empower women with experience of criminal justice; to change perspectives and challenge labels.


    » •Using the production of Sweatbox as an immersive experience for audiences
    » •The prison van will be used as a focal point for information about Clean Break and women with lived experience of the criminal justice system.

    What success will look like

    Through feedback - collected through questionnaires, recording vox pops and informal feedback we will be able to gain an understanding of the impact Sweatbox has had on audiences.

    Aim 2

    3 Clean Break Members will further their professional development as actors


    » • Members will go through a casting process, which will be followed by rehearsals and the UK tour. They will work with leading female theatre artist
    » •Members will be supported by Clean Break’s Support Team throughout the tour.

    What success will look like

    The Members who perform on the tour will report that their confidence has increased in a professional capacity.

  • Impact


    Our long term change with this project matches our new mission: To produce groundbreaking theatre which puts women’s voices at its heart and creates lasting change by challenging injustice in and beyond the criminal justice system. This will be just one of our programmed activities in our 40th Anniversary to reach out new audiences to continue changing hearts and minds about the realities of what women face in the criminal justice system.


    We are in discussion with a number of potential host venues around the country for this project, but have not confirmed these partnerships as yet. We have nearly 40 years experience working with partners to produce and tour our work however, and are confident of securing a strong network of tour partners. Furthermore, the actual venue itself, the van, is highly flexible: greatly increasing the range of options available to us and our partners around scheduling performances and events.


    We will be creating digital content alongside our Sweatbox tour, with regular updates from those on the tour through social media posts and newsletters. With their permission, we will email an individual update to our Big Give donors with an update about the project and its impact.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £93,316

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £41,341 Artists and stage management These are the fees and expenses to support a touring cast and crew
      £12,531 Production Materials and set
      £5,000 Press & Marketing To advertise the tour
      £30,000 Digital and Learning To engage audiences both at the site of the van and digitally
      £4,444 Contingency For unexpected costs
  • Background


    The play will be rehearsed and produced in our Kentish Town studios in London, and will then tour to a number of venues across England as a pop up performance. The benefit of having a venue which is transportable is that we can take the project directly to new audiences, targeting those who do not yet know the stories we are telling and may not see our work in a traditional theatre environment.


    Our Members are women who have experience of criminal justice; a group with multiple needs. 95% of our Members report experiencing domestic violence; 47% struggle with mental health; and 45% have housing needs. This will be an opportunity for 3 Members to develop professionally in their journey to work in the theatre sector and break the cycle of offending.
    We plan to reach a broad audience across the country to change hearts and minds around the stories of women in the criminal justice system.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We are an award-winning theatre company, with nearly 40 years’ experience producing professional theatre in partnership with leading cultural organisations such as the RSC and National Theatre Connections. We have a track record of excellent theatre practice and specialist support, we enable women to thrive to their fullest potential and put their voices at the heart of our work. Our productions give a powerful platform to voices which are under-represented in contemporary theatre.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Anna Herrmann

    Joint Artistic Director Leads our Members, leadership and research work. She has more than 25 years experience in theatre education.

    Róisín McBrinn

    Joint Artistic Director Leads our Artistic Programme and is a leading theatre director with over 15 years experience.

    Jacqueline Stewart

    Leads our Support Service. Jacqueline has 18 years experience with vulnerable and hard to reach groups (12 years with Clean Break).