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York Theatre Royal in association with Pilot Theatre announce large-scale community production for 2017.
The story will be told by a cast of community volunteer actors and will tell the largely unknown story of York’s suffragette movement.
York Theatre Royal and Pilot Theatre today announced their latest large-scale community theatre co-production, which will take place in June 2017. The production will tell the largely unknown story of York’s suffragette movement and the ongoing struggle for female empowerment, drawing on a range of historical research and setting the story within the national suffragette campaign and in the present day.
The script will be written by Bridget Foreman, who co-wrote the 2015 community play In Fog and Falling Snow with Mike Kenny (The Railway Children) with a team of directors including York Theatre Royal Associate Director Juliet Forster (The Machine Stops, In Fog and Falling Snow) and the team from Pilot Theatre who collaborated on Blood + Chocolate and In Fog and Falling Snow. Acting as historical advisor on the script is Professor Krista Cowman from the University of Lincoln, who advised on the 2015 British film drama Suffragette and who has written extensively about the York movement.
This brand new work follows the success of previous York Theatre Royal and Pilot Theatre community co-productions Blood + Chocolate (2013) and In Fog and Falling Snow (2015). Performed on a spectacular scale by a cast of around 150 volunteers, the action will once more be performed in the streets of York before for the first time moving onto the stage at York Theatre Royal. From Heworth housewives to railway workers and from teenage arsonists to the Prime Minister, there will be parts for women and men of all ages to take part in presenting this astonishing moment in York’s history.
The suffragette movement was a hugely contentious issue which divided friends, families and neighbours. At its height in 1913, when some of the play will be set, the country was in daily uproar and outrage at the creative, daring and frequently dangerous acts of the suffragettes. In York, apparently ordinary women with homes, husbands and children ran safe houses, organised meetings, smashed windows and fire-bombed pillar boxes. It was risky and for many exhilarating, but until now, this story has not been told.
Writer Bridget Foreman said:
The suffragette movement was about far more than votes for women. It was a demand for social change; a protest movement that crossed barriers of age, sex and class. Many paid a huge price as they fought for the rights that we now take for granted. They risked their lives in their quest for many of the freedoms we enjoy today.
Actors Barbara Marten and Andrina Carroll have been heavily involved in the concept and development of the piece and will appear in the production. Barbara Marten commented:
2018 will see the 100 year anniversary of women receiving the vote. We want to celebrate this hard-won victory and celebrate some of the local women who made it possible. York had its own heroines and local research has uncovered a real piece of forgotten history. It feels really important to honour the memory of these women as we approach 2018.
York Theatre Royal and Pilot Theatre in association with York St John University will work in partnership with York-based women’s charity the Kyra Women’s Project on this latest production. Founded in 2013, the Kyra Women’s Project provides a safe space and support centre for women and run by women, offering encouragement, companionship, information, training and a sense of belonging from women from all backgrounds.
Annie Stirk, a Trustee of Kyra said:
We are extremely pleased to be working in partnership with York Theatre Royal and Pilot Theatre on this piece of theatre. One of our objectives at Kyra is to promote equality and inclusion for women, a struggle which been ongoing since the suffragette movement began at the beginning of the last century and which continues to this day.