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Chris Grady: Theatre remembers Emily Davison

By • London
Emily Davison throws herself in front of the King's Horse at Epsom on 4 June 1913
Emily Davison throws herself in front of the King's Horse at Epsom on 4 June 1913

As you'll no doubt have heard, this week marks the 100th anniversary of the 1913 Derby when Emily Wilding Davison threw herself under a horse as the final act in a struggle for women to gain the vote. She died a few days later and her funeral was at St George's Church Bloomsbury.

On Tuesday, Elizabeth Crarer opened a new play at St George's exploring Ms Davison's hopes, frustrations, humour, belief, and of course her actions to elicit change. (For tour dates and information go to the playwright Ros Connelly's site.)

At the same time another actress, Kate Willoughby, is creating her own new piece starting in Morpeth, where Emily came from – a different take and drawing into the theatre an exploration of the jockey who eventually committed suicide as a result of the race. To Freedom's Cause visits the Tristan Bates on 26 June.

There have been many articles in recent days on the suffrage movement then and now, of the struggle for women's voices to be heard, and of the ongoing need for public protest to ensure change. Despite all that the suffragettes went through women are still, I understand, less likely to vote than men. Now is a time for us all to reflect on why our voices must be heard – men and women's – where we can be heard.

I've followed these two shows move from idea to this point of opening. Kate and I explored production opportunities in one of my surgeries, and Lizzie has been rehearsing in our front room with co-devisor director Kath Burlinson. What is wonderful is now to see them jointly championing each other's shows. They met together in Morpeth to explore ideas. They are honouring and cheering each other on.

So if you get a chance see one or both of these pieces. Explore what has changed in the last 100 years, and what still needs to be done – and then get out there ensure our voices are heard through theatre, through debate, through struggle or just through the vote.

Tags: Chris GradyEmily Davison


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