The NT marks the 100th anniversary of the first women in the UK gaining the right to vote, with a series of rehearsed readings, talks and events, as well as a free exhibition in the Lyttelton Lounge. World-class directors Nadia Fall, Phyllida Lloyd, Jenny Sealey, Lyndsey Turner and Dawn Walton will bring to life five plays on themes of suffrage, courage and the fight for political equality in the UK and around the world.
The rehearsed readings will share the stage with a programme including Scarlett Curtis chairing a discussion on the impact of women’s voices on society, a journey through women’s poetry with Sheila Atim, Joanna Lumley and Indira Varma, and Naomi Paxton revealing the stories she has discovered whilst curating Dramatic Progress.
Producer Faye Merralls said: “This year has seen a wealth of work, art and conversation reflecting this centenary milestone and the NT is proud to be joining the celebration with Courage Everywhere. The season features a brilliantly eclectic mix of readings: from plays contemporary to the Suffragette movement; to thoroughly modern reflections, and a brand new piece that gives voice to the previously marginalised areas of the movement. The weekend is a celebration of how far we have come and what has been achieved as a result of the courage of many. It is also a moment to look to what progress is required in the years ahead. This season aims to provoke those questions about the future.
Rehearsed Readings, Dorfman Theatre
There will be post show talks held after each of the readings, including contributions from the director and cast members – included in the ticket price.
And Others curated by Susan Croft, Graeae and the NT
Directed by Jenny Sealey
Thursday 15 November, 7.30pm
A testimony to the women who have been lost to history, who fought for suffrage but whose stories have been left untold. Graeae Theatre’s Artistic Director Jenny Sealey draws together the words of forgotten women to mark the achievement of women’s suffrage.
Cast is Jodi-Alissa Bickerton, Babirye Bukilwa, Liz Carr, Philippa Cole, Kellan Frankland, Paddy Glynn, Vilma Jackson, Awa Jagne, Karina Jones and Rena Sodhi.
In the Parlour by Judy Tate and Magda, Jo, Isabella by Saviana Stanescu, Aoise Stratford and Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon
Directed by Dawn Walton
Friday 16 November, 7.30pm
In the Parlour – March 1913: On the eve of the most historic women’s suffrage marches two women, divided by race, battle for their right to be united and to fight in this movement.
Magda, Jo, Isabella – Three brilliant new monologues from US writers tackling race, class and belonging in the suffrage movement.
Cast includes Eliza Butterworth, Martina Laird, Yasmin Mwanza and Amaka Okafor, with further names to be confirmed.
Her Naked Skin by Rebecca Lenkiewicz
Directed by Nadia Fall
Saturday 17 November, 3pm
Depicting a love affair which crosses fraught class lines, and set against the backdrop of the violent struggle for suffrage, Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s historic play premiered in the Olivier Theatre in 2008.
Cast includes David Calder, Lois Chimimba, Jonathan Coote, Erin Doherty, Deborah Findlay, Kate Fleetwood, Tunji Kasim, Isabella Laughland, Penny Layden, Francesca Mills and Michael Shaeffer with further names to be confirmed.
Bull in a China Shop by Bryna Turner
Directed by Phyllida Lloyd
Saturday 17 November, 8.00pm
Two lovers in a Massachusetts seminary find their lives upturned by revolution, fan-adoration and the price of joining the establishment. A fierce new comedy by US writer Bryna Turner, this is a dynamic queering of history that traverses the generations.
Cast includes Jade Anouka and Leah Harvey, with further names to be confirmed.
Votes for Women by Elizabeth Robins
Directed by Lyndsey Turner
Sunday 18 November, 3pm
Elizabeth Robins’ genre-defining 1907 play dramatises the moment in which the suffragette movement was born; as polite political discourse reached breaking point and women across the UK stood up to be counted.
Cast includes Ruby Bentall, Anthony Calf, Jolyon Coy, Daniel Flynn, Philip Goldacre, Stella Gonet, Adelle Leonce, Victoria Moseley, Vinette Robinson, Ellora Torchia, Sylvestra le Touzel, Zubin Varla and Dwane Walcott, with further names to be confirmed.
Dramatic Progress: Votes for Women and the Edwardian Stage
A free exhibition in the Lyttelton Lounge curated by Naomi Paxton, opening on 22 October 2018 and running until January 2019.
This exhibition highlights how the campaign for votes for women was championed by women and men from different professions across the UK, not excluding the theatre. In 1908, two groups of theatre professionals formed to support the cause – the Actresses’ Franchise League (AFL) and the Women Writers’ Suffrage League (WWSL). This exhibition celebrates their diverse and exciting work for the Edwardian suffrage campaign, and explores how they helped to share the ideas and language of the movement. Includes filmed extracts of plays from the time, archive materials and images.
Talks and Events
Activism in the Archives: Finding Stories of Suffrage Theatre
Thursday 15 November, 6pm, Cottesloe Room
Tickets £7 (£5 concessions)
A talk from performer, writer and researcher Naomi Paxton on the stories she has discovered from the history of suffrage theatre and activism.
Women Poets Through the Ages with Allie Esiri
Friday 16 November, 6pm, Olivier Theatre
Tickets £7 (£5 concessions)
Allie Esiri and guest actors including Sheila Atim, Joanna Lumley and Indira Varma, go on a highly entertaining and powerful journey through women’s poetry. The evening will include poems that mark this year’s centenary of the Representation of the People Act, which first gave some women the right to vote.
Exhibition Insight with Curator Naomi Paxton
Saturday 17 November, 11.30am, Lyttelton Lounge
An exhibition tour with curator Naomi Paxton exploring her research for and curation of the exhibition Dramatic Progress: Votes for Women and the Edwardian Stage.
Courage Everywhere Pop-up
Sunday 18 November, 12noon-7pm, Clore Learning Centre
Including workshops on writing your own scenes for Suffrage Puppetry and creating Suffrage Zines, Equaliteas, suffragette top trumps, screenings of ‘March’ directed by Anna Birch, panel talks on women as statues and playing suffrage characters and demos of Jujitsuffrage!
Hear Her Roar: Where are Women’s Voices?
Friday 23 November, 5.45pm, Dorfman Theatre
Tickets £7 (concessions £5)
A panel discussion unpacking how women’s contributions and voices impact society in the UK and globally and how they might be perceived in the future. Chaired by Scarlett Curtis, editor, journalist and author with contributions from Momtaza Merhi, Young People’s Laureate for London, Nimco Ali, co-founder of Daughters of Eve and Bridget Minamore, poet, author and journalist.