Catrina McHugh MBE

Originally from Liverpool, UK, Catrina moved to Newcastle in 1993 after falling in love with a Geordie, Newcastle and the North East.  Driven by a passionate belief that great theatre can bring about social change, she co-founded Open Clasp in 1998.  She has unparalleled experienced working creatively with the most disenfranchised women and successfully works with communities to create risk-taking and exciting theatre providing powerful stimulus for discussion and debate.  She has been hailed as the ‘female Lee Hall only better’.  Key Change, her most recent play won the Carol Tambor ‘Best of Edinburgh Award’ 2015’, which resulted in a three half week run off Broadway in January 2016, where it received the New York Times ‘Critics Pick’. 

North East

Plays Produced

Key Change (2014,2015,2016) - Open Clasp Theatre Company (Prisons in the UK, Live Theatre, Edinburgh Festival, New York Theatre Workshop 4th Street Theatre, , off Broadway) Directed by Laura Lindow

Key Change won the Carol Tambor 'Best of Edinburgh' Award 2015


'Critics Pick' in the New York Times  “a moving, intimate and superbly acted drama about women’s lives in a British prison.”


"Exquisite… singing with an everyday poetry as if the devising process had unlocked a waterfall of creativity" ★★★★ Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

"a touching, empowering work... a potent lesson in theatre making"

★★★★★ The Stage

Jumping Puddles (2015) – Open Clasp Theatre Company in collaboration with Frantic Assembly (Live Theatre, Everyman Theatre, Liverpool) Director Rosie Kellagher

 “Jumping Puddles should strike chords, touch hearts, entertain and maybe even educate on its northern tour.” The Journal

“entertaining and moving….” British Theatre Guide

“a thought provoking and honest piece of theatre that certainly succeeds in its aims of giving a true voice to women in the North.” The Public Reviews


The Space Between Us (2013)- Open Clasp Theatre Company (Live Theatre) Director Charlotte Bennett

"moving, funny and brilliantly acted.. thought-provoking and heart-warming" The Journal

“Although its roots are deep in this region, Open Clasp’s work is far-removed from Geordie theatre. It shows a grass roots radicalism and genuine commitment, coupled with professionalism” British Theatre Guide 2013


Swags & Tails 2012 Open Clasp Theatre (Live Theatre)

"at once endearing, hilarious, passionate and tear-jerking. It gives a perfect insight in to the lives of the elderly and fights on their behalf for some much-needed respect." The Evening Chronicle


BlueGiro 2011 Open Clasp Theatre (Live Theatre) Written and Directed by Catrina McHugh

 “The play successfully marries drama and humour, a difficult task at any time”, British Theatre Guide


Rattle & Roll 2010 Open Clasp Theatre (Live Theatre) Directed by Amy Golding

“Thoroughly entertaining" The Journal, 19 Feb 2010


Stand n Tan 2003, 2009 Open Clasp Theatre (Live Theatre, Northern Stage) Directed by Fiona MacPherson

“With a feel good soundtrack and plenty of gags, Stand 'n' Tan is light relief from heavy headlines, yet its serious undertones echo wider issues without making you feel guilty for letting your hair down" The Journal, March 2009


Twist of Lemon (2008) Open Clasp Theatre (Live Theatre) Directed by Fiona MacPherson

"This brave piece of theatre not only promotes diversity but also pushes the similarities that all humans can face regardless of gender or sexuality. With the blast of modern music, observed writing and flawless performances, A Twist of Lemon ticks all the right boxes, making it an unmissable piece of theatre. Open Clasp is truly a treasure of the north east that must be supported and encouraged to become a treasure of the nation." British Theatre Guide 2008


Tonic (2007) Open Clasp Theatre (Live Theatre) Directed by Fiona MacPherson

"A real Tonic that beats the World Cup any day... powerful scenes involving truth, confession and honesty ... balance nicely with Catrina's humorous exploration of the lives of five ordinary North-East women." The Journal 29 March 2007


Falling Knives (2001, 2002 and 2006) Open Clasp Theatre (Live Theatre, Zion Centre, West Yorkshire Playhouse) directed by Fiona MacPherson

 ‘Under the superb penmanship of writer Catrina McHugh, this is one of the funniest and most mesmerising productions since Lee Halls’ ‘Cooking With Elvis’.  Metro North East 2001


AHD (1999, 2002) Open Clasp Theatre (Live Theatre) directed by Fiona MacPherson

"Open Clasp don't shirk when it comes to tackling issues we'd rather not think about... their strength is that they make realism entertaining and accessible; allowing us to either peek into a worlds we know little about, or one we know only too well – and give some the strength to make changes." The Crack 2002