Sell-out play charts women's fight for vote 100 years ago

A hundred years after women got the vote, the acclaimed play Sylvia, about suffragette and artist Sylvia Pankhurst, is coming to the Borders as part of International Women's Day celebrations.

Thursday, 8th March 2018, 11:27 am
Undated file photo of suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst, who was one of Emmeline Pankhurst's three daughters, at her desk in 1911. The Representation of the People Act, passed on February 6 1918, gave certain women over the age of 30 a vote and the right to stand for Parliament. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Saturday February 3, 2018. See PA story POLITICS Votes. Photo credit should read: PA Wire

Jackie Mulhallen, the author and sole performer said: “Sylvia was a leading figure in the fight for the vote and for better pay and working conditions for working women, but she is often forgotten. An accomplished artist, she also painted the first ever series of pictures of working women, including the ‘bondagers’ of the Borders, and these pictures are part of the show.”

Sylvia Pankhurst has been hailed as the greatest Englishwoman of the 20th century, and this play about her has already sold out in Wolverhampton and Salford.

It is being staged at Wauchope Hall in Town Yetholm tonight (Thursday), at 7.30pm, tickets free, and at The Cheviot Centre in Wooler, tomorrow, tickets £8.

Director and designer William Alderson said there has been a constant demand for its revival, and last year Lynx launched its first national tour of this updated production, but with the same actress returning to the role.

The director said: “We have found that Sylvia is as relevant today as when it was first written – possibly even more so, and performances are frequently selling out.

“In Salford the tickets went in just four days and over a month before we were to perform.”

William’s production uniquely uses a sequence of slides of Sylvia Pankhurst’s life and art as a background to the play’s action, among them her paintings of the bondagers of the Border country.

Local writer Dinah Iredale, who has written about the bondagers, will be joining the company for the audience discussion after both performances. She saw the play in Blyth last year and said: “I thoroughly enjoyed the performance, and the combination of the images and acting was perfect.”

The performances are supported by the Scottish Borders Rape Crisis Centre, the Scottish Borders Council, Unison and the RMT.