Molly McPhee

Miasmatic Performance: Women, crime and carcerality in the theatre of Clean Break

My research builds on six years as a member of London-based theatre and new writing company Clean Break, who produce plays and deliver theatre education to women offenders and women at risk in the community. I investigate the ways in which Clean Break’s dramaturgies of women and crime trouble and intersect with the carceral imaginary of audiences without lived experience of the criminal justice system. Applying to theatre what carceral geographers have identified as ‘seepages’ of carceral techniques in society, my research develops a framework of ‘miasmatic performance’ to describe the inter- and extralegal porosities of social stigma, prison, public health, and policing as they emerge within performance practice and audience exchange. 

Key terms: prison theatre; carceral society; social contagion; atmosphere; feminist and queer theory.

Researcher Bio

From 2009-2015, I was involved in the production of over fifteen new plays for Clean Break, touring to theatres, custodial and community settings around the UK. My recent publications include ‘Miasmatic Performance: Women and resilience in carceral climates’ for Performance Research (2018); and two book chapters forthcoming in 2019: ‘The Case of Clean Break Theatre Company’s Chargedin Caoimhe McAvinchey (ed.), Applied Theatre: Women and Criminal Justice (Bloomsbury) and ‘“I don’t know why she’s crying”: Contagion and criminality in Clean Break’s Dream Pilland Little on the inside’, in Fintan Walsh (ed.), Theatres of Contagion: Transmitting Early Modern to Contemporary Performance (Bloomsbury). A former Fulbright Research Scholar (University of Hamburg), I hold an MFA in Critical Studies from the California Institute of the Arts.

Contact Info and Links

ORCID number:  0000-0001-7729-9061