Sheffield show set in women's prison embraces spirit of punk and demands to be heard

A new play about women prisoners who form a punk band will finally be seen on stage in Sheffield after a production had to be cancelled during the pandemic.

Friday, 17th September 2021, 10:02 am

Riotous and funny Typical Girls, which features the music of iconic female punk band The Slits, gets its world premiere at the Crucible Theatre later this month.

One of the cast, Lucy Ellinson, said: “It was meant to be seen in 2020 – because of the lockdown it wasn’t produced then. It’s been able to find its way on to the stage which we were all glad about – so many plays haven’t been done.”

Lucy said that the play is set in a women’s prison rehabilitation unit and she plays a music teacher who suggests the group set up a punk band to encourage the women to express themselves.

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"It’s the idea of wanting to assert your individuality,” said Lucy.

The title is taken from one of The Slits’ songs and refers to the limitations put on the band. The cast have been lucky enough to meet Slits bassist Tessa Pollitt during rehearsals.

Lucy said: “Some of us haven’t picked up an instrument in years. We’ve been working really hard to get the songs right. Tessa said don’t worry, I had a bass in my hands two weeks before my first gig!”

She said her character, Marie, really believes in the women and thinks music can help them fulfil their potential. “Their experience in the criminal justice system doesn’t allow them to express themselves as individuals.”

Lucy continued: “The women get to speak about their experiences. One women is a mother and another is much younger. You get to share their perspectives through the playwriting.

"Each of the songs connects to their story. It reveals their experience of what it is like to be inside.”

The play is a co-production between Sheffield Theatres and Clean Break, a theatre company formed by two women prisoners who believed that theatre could bring the hidden stories of imprisoned women to a wider audience.Typical Girls runs at the Crucible from September 24 to October 16. Get tickets from the box office in person, call 0114 249 6000 or go to The show will be livestreamed on October 6.