Open Clasp’s Sugar on the BBC

Published: 25 November 2020
Reporter: Peter Lathan

Taja Luegaezor Christian as Annie Credit: Topher McGrillis
Paislie Reid as Julie Credit: Topher McGrillis
Zoe Lambert as Tracy Credit: Topher McGrillis

Open Clasp’s Sugar, the stories of three women caught up in the criminal justice system which previewed at Live Theatre early in March, is to be available on the BBC iPlayer from 25 November 2020, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, for twelve months.

Written by Open Clasp's Artistic Director, Catrina McHugh MBE, Sugar was devised with women who are homeless, on probation or in prison, working with working with the Women’s Direct Access Centre in Manchester, West End Women and Girls Centre in Newcastle, HMP Low Newton and national charity Changing Lives.

It tells the story of three women: Annie who is unavoidably late for an appointment with her probation officer, Julie who is in her last night in prison and is determined it will be the last time and Tracey who lives in a homeless shelter and is on the way to hospital with a bleeding eye and shooting pains up and down her arms.

“Creating Sugar as a piece of theatre for the screen has offered us remarkable opportunities to tell these stories in new and different ways,” director Laura Lindow explained. “The viewpoint of the camera is powerfully intimate as the characters take us into their confidence. The stark but beautiful theatrical setting sets up different terms for us to encounter them as we step into their worlds.”

“It is,” McHugh said, “an important and urgent piece of theatre, a state of the nation, and it asks audiences to step into the shoes of women and to see the world through their eyes.”

“BBC Arts is pleased to be able to bring Sugar to iPlayer,” Lamia Dabboussy, Executive Editor of BBC Arts added. “It’s a reminder of the power of theatre, particularly when people are given the opportunity to collaborate with theatre makers to share their own experiences.”

Sugar was written by Katrina McHugh and directed by Laura Lindow with camera direction and editing by Katja Roberts for Meerkat Films, set and costume design by Verity Quinn, lighting design by Ali Hunter and sound design by Roma Yagnik. Sugar was created for the screen in partnership with Meerkat Films in association with Live Theatre and supported by The Space. The cast are Taja Luegaezor Christian, Paislie Reid, Zoe Lambert and Christina Berriman Dawson.

The preview at Live Theatre on 5 March 2020 interspersed the three women’s stories, but the iPlayer stream is divided into three episodes: Annie (29 minutes), Julie (23 minutes) and Tracy (33 minutes). Streaming begins on the BBC iPlayer at 9AM on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, 25 November, and continues for twelve months.