Salford Arts Theatre continues to bring interesting and relevant stories to the fore,, as The Cause celebrates the centenary of some women getting the right to vote.
Interestingly, it chimes with the current political climate and asks questions of today's society. Focusing on an exchange between two truly, great Britons, The Cause, written by Natalie McGrath and being toured by Dreadnought South West, creates a clash of views and opinions between Emmeline Pankhurst and Millicent Fawcett.
Millicent Fawcett was a major figure in revolutionising world politics, who began campaigning for the right to vote in 1866. A movement was created and there was a ground-swell of support for the women that bravely united against inequality.
However, in other quarters, The Suffragists were marginalised and met with derision and hatred. While, Millicent Fawcett was an advocate of peaceful demonstration, Emmeline Pankhurst's Suffragettes were willing to employ more direct action.
Michelle Ridings plays Emmeline Pankhurst and is honoured to take on the powerful role of the legendary local: "I'm so proud that we're bringing this play to Manchester" she says "I grew up knowing that Emmeline Pankhurst was a suffragette, and that as a Mancunian, I was somehow part of something that had a massive impact on the whole nation."
The play examines the desire and drive that is required to ensure change and the methods employed to attain progress, highlighting the difference and common-ground between two iconic figures.
While the subject matter that inspired the piece occurred over a century ago, many issues are strangely relevant. Prejudice, equality and high-level bigotry are prominent factors in this timely production, as writer Natalie McGrath confirms:
"This tour feels timely with the current energy and visibility of women's rights and gender equality campaigning that is taking place, and the centenary of the first votes for some women" she explains "As we developed the work, we met many women who have been campaigning for a long time. I really felt those stories that were shared with us at Dreadnought very deeply, and they have emerged as being at the heart of this play about Millicent Fawcett and Emmeline Pankhurst."
The Cause closely looks at the positive and negative aspects of rallying against oppression and how the courageous are perceived. It considers the impact that a lifetime of political campaigning has on an individual and asks how far you would go for something you believe in.
The play explores the divide between the aggressive direct action of the suffragettes and the peaceful constitutional means of the suffragists. Dreadnought South West describes The Cause as, "a new play inspired by an imagined meeting between two great leaders of the women's suffrage campaign. It depicts the explosive meeting of minds when Millicent Fawcett and Emmeline Pankhurst come together at a time when campaigns for women's rights were at their most revolutionary and embattled."
The Cause marks the centenary year of the first votes for some women in 1918. This dynamic production has an original musical score and film animation, projected for thrilling visual effect.
The Cause by Natalie McGrath
Tuesday 16th October 2:30pm and 7:30pm
Salford Arts Theatre £12/£10
To book tickets – click here
For further details see the Facebook event page – click here
Words by Ian Leslie