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This play is a fiction tinged with reality because A Woman Inside is also the culmination of two paths. The playwright and director, Sophie Besse, a keen theatre actress, is also a clinical psychologist and worked for five years with female inmates at the Prison for Women in Fleury-Merogis, France. For her casting Sophie has naturally chosen actresses trained in classical theatre but also actresses trained at Clean Break, a London-based theatre and education company working with women whose lives have been affected by the criminal justice system.




I had these women's words but also their silences, their tears, their laughter, their violence, their fragility, their beauty, their pain, their crimes and their wounds. I had prison, its confinement, its dirt, its incessant noises, its eyes following them everywhere, its intrusion within their bodies.

I drew a white square on stage. I put two amazing actresses within it. I locked them up together and the images came to life, so did the lights, the music, and finally their words.

 Sophie NL Besse

Directed by Sophie NL Besse

Written by Sophie NL Besse


Carrie Rock, Tracy Radzan, Suzanna Frances Garton, Jennifer Joseph and Sophie Besse, Caryn Stanley.

Child: Sibby Curzon Price

Music composed by:

Maria Vatenina and Didier Recloux

Sound and Lighting Design:

Nathalie Gunzle

Set Design: Barbara Beyer

Photography: Nichole Rees

 Drawing made by Caryn Stanley


Excellent. Fantastic. Very powerful. 


Huffington Post

Tony Curzon Price for openDemocracy


The actresses were incredible, really phenomenal... Beautiful and creative directing, Very poetic and powerful at the same time.

French Radio London. Emilie Perraudeau.

Sophie Besse: The theatre of life

 Amandine Jean from "Ici Londres. 

Touching, moving, extremely powerful play. We are still shaking... Not to be missed!★★★★★

Ici Londres. Amandine Jean

Heartbreaking moments punctuated by laughter, vivid acting.We loved it! Powerful work.

Clean Break

Sharp writing. Creative directing. Absorbing play.           ★★★★

PassionForTheatre. Mani Pillai

A Woman Inside lays bare some of the many and varied emotions experienced behind bars. Tracy Radzan’s portrayal of an institutionalised prisoner was particularly gripping.

National Prison Radio.

The performances in 'A woman inside' were compelling - nuanced, disarming and often hilarious. A fine statement that pub theatres are punching well above their weight.

The Big Issue

Un petit chef d'oeuvre.

Article "Le petit journal".Astrid Devaux

WHat The Audience Said 

"I can't quite tell what it is, but I laughed, I cried... I came back home with goose bumps and all shaking. Something changed deeply inside..."

"I can't find my words. I am deeply moved... The directing is very creative and powerful. The writing is very sharp and the actresses incredible!"

"Strong piece of theatre. Very touching and poetic."

"The actors were terrific and the play was so touching and wonderful."

"I came away feeling I'd seen Big Theatre in a very small place."

"An intensly moving play! The acting is heart-rending."

"It was really moving. I imagine that there was not a dry eye in the House."

Words from women in prison


"The searches are different depending on the officer.

At first I felt really humiliated but now I do it like a robot. It’s as if my body does not belong to me anymore…” 

“You have to work out when the patrols will come…. I don’t want to be on the toilets or brushing my teeth when they pass by. What’s more, we have to stand up for them to see us through the peephole.”

“It’s not pretty a woman who gets out of prison… Already, I was not walking with my head high...”

“I always put on make-up to hide that I am not well. Actually when I don’t put it on, my friends know that I’m about to lose it.”

“I will not crack. I have a program. I do 17 hours of body building a week.”

"My favourite show is “Little House on the Prairie”", Leila, 16. Armed robber

“Here we never seem to be truly clean, so I wash three times a day with a bucket of water that I pour over my head over the bidet in the cell.”

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