Project Description

Last year as part of our large portfolio of work in North East prisons Dilly Arts devised and managed a project working with female prisoners in HMP YOI Low Newton designed to take their voices to male prisons and a public audience.

Dilly Arts commissioned Open Clasp Theatre Co to work with the women to produce a piece of theatre that went on to become Key Change, toured to male prisons and sell out audiences at the Live Theatre Newcastle.

We are delighted to announce that Key Change will be going to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year opening on 8th August! A huge thanks and congratulations to the entire team behind this stunning work – most of all to the prison staff who supported our vision and to the women who trusted our process and shared their stories which will now be heard by an even bigger, international audience!
The animated films made by the women and male prisoners, working with artist Lindsay Duncanson and writer Richard W Hardwick as the vital second part of this project are available by following this link.

The Live Theatre performance of ‘Key Change’ took place on Saturday the 7th of June. For the British Theatre Guide’s review, please click here.

Alison was interviewed by Simon Logan at BBC Radio Newcastle, and you can listen to this on iPlayer by clicking here.  

There was a article in the Journal newspaper and online before the performance. You can view this by clicking here.

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 Key Change

HMP YOI Low Newton Women's StoriesDuring 2014 Dilly Arts undertook a hugely exciting programme working with women prisoners of HMP YOI Low Newton.

Our project ffell into three phases:

Phase 1: January – June 2014

We commissioned the brilliant Open Clasp Theatre Company to work within HMP YOI Low Newton to help the women devise their own play – the women had the  opportunity to perform their play to their community inside their prison. As the women are not be able to leave prison to tour their work, their play was taken up by professional female actors and toured to male prisons in the North East: HMP Durham, HMP Frankland, HMYOI Deerbolt and HMP Northumberland all held two performances per establishment; this enabled us to not only reach a larger audience but also perform to the VP (vulnerable prisoner) population as well as the main populations in each prison.

Following the male prison performances, we took the performance back into HMP YOI Low Newton, before public performances at the Live theatre on 7 June (follow link below for more details and to book tickets).

We followed up the male prison performances with creative writing workshops to provide opportunity for the men to work through their responses to the work and the film of the performance at Live Theatre was taken back into HMP YOI Low Newton so the women can see the public’s response to their work.

Phase 2: June – September 2014

The soundtrack from the play was used to create an animated film by the women at HMP YOI Low Newton, this is available on our website here.

 Phase 3: June – September 2014

Running parallel to our film project at HMP YOI Low Newton, we were funded by HMP Durham and HMP Frankland to work with their male prisoners to create short films in response to the issues raised in the women’s play – this opportunity was offered to HMP Northumberland and HMYOI Deerbolt.


Dilly Arts is hugely grateful to all our funders for their support for this project!

This project is supported using public funding  by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Big Lottery. Dilly Arts has also received funding for this project from HMP YOI Low Newton,  HMP Durham and HMP Frankland.

(Photo credit: Colin Potsig)