Rebels with a cause - Suffragettes

Rebellious Sisterhood- John Clare Theatre,
Rebellious Sisterhood- John Clare Theatre,

Broad Horizons Theatre Company present a new play by Karen Forbes for the centenary of women gaining the vote, at Peterborough’s John Clare Theatre on March 1.

The Norfolk based theatre company are touring the country offering a rare glimpse behind the scenes at the private lives - and the personal cost - paid by the leaders of the Suffragettes.

Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst is not a well woman. Recently released from prison, refusing to eat has left her weak and debilitated. She finds sanctuary at the cottage of her friend, the composer, Ethel Smyth.

But their peace is challenged by the arrival of young firebrand, Grace Roe, fresh from turning East Anglia into a hotbed of Suffragette protest.

Memories surface - some are amusing, while others are painful. Hunger striking, force feeding and even martyrdom are balanced by exciting rallies, camaraderie on being arrested, humour at facing the judges, and sisterhood, even in prison.

“No cost is too high, in service of the Cause,” Mrs Pankhurst tells young Grace.

But the cost is indeed very high, as family rifts, rivalries and growing violence threaten the three women . Will the end really justify the means, or the price paid?

As always, Broad Horizons aim to support regional talent and venues. Actors Bev Bishop (Mrs Pankhurst), Judi Daykin (Dame Ethel) and Kiara Hawker (Grace Roe) are all based in Norfolk. Cordelia Spence, has taken time out from her own East Anglian theatre company (Stuff Of Dreams) to be guest director. While writer, Karen Forbes, graduated from the MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia last year and this is her first commission.

The company is working with UNISON for this visit and advance tickets are available from or on the door at the theatre. They cost £5 for UNISON members, £10 all else. Profits will be donated to a local women’s charity.