A NEW play about the life of famed suffragette Emily Davison will be premiered next month in the North East market town where she was laid to rest a century ago.
To Freedom’s Cause – which was written by Yorkshire-based actor and playwright Kate Willoughby – explores the lead up to the 1913 Epsom Derby, where the renowned women’s rights campaigner suffered fatal injuries.
The thought-provoking work is inspired by a letter which Emily’s mother Margaret Caisley was moved to write to her daughter as she lay gravely ill in hospital after being knocked down by the King’s horse, Anmer, during the race.
It will be performed for the first time next month in Morpeth, where Emily is buried in St Mary’s Churchyard, as part of a series of events marking the 100th anniversary of her death.
The new play looks at the final months of Emily’s life as she pushed the boundaries of protest, after experiencing some brutal treatment at the hands of the authorities during periods of imprisonment for her actions. She was force-fed no fewer than 49 times.
It also explores the close relationship between Emily and her mother, who went from London to live in Longhorsley near Morpeth following the death of her husband Charles.
Emily returned many times to her mother’s home to recuperate from her treatment in prison. Locals nicknamed her The Lawless Lassie, which Kate has adopted as a sub-title for the play.
Kate, who is playing the role of Emily, said: “At a time when voting apathy is commonplace, To Freedom’s Cause, is a timely reminder of the sacrifices made by an earlier generation so that we can live in a modern democracy.
“The play is fun, educational and thought-provoking although, because Emily was one of the more radical figures of the suffragette movement, the script doesn’t shy away from the brutality and desperation of her situation. Our aim is to tell her story, remind today’s generation and inspire the next.”
Tickets are now on sale for performances of the play in Northumberland and Newcastle, at The Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond and the Tristan Bates Theatre in Covent Garden, London. A closed performance is also scheduled to take place in the Downview Women’s Prison in Surrey, five miles from Epsom Racecourse.
The premiere will be in Morpeth’s Riverside Leisure Centre on Friday and Saturday, June 14 and 15. Kate and Kay Renner, who plays Emily’s mother, have also been holding school workshops in the Morpeth area.
To Freedom’s Cause is the third play written by Kate, who says she is drawn to strong women who took on the establishment. Her others were about Mary Queen of Scots and prison reformer Elizabeth Fry.
:: Tickets for the Northumberland and Tyneside performances of To Freedom’s Cause can be booked on 01434 652 471, and details of the venues can be found at www.emilyinspires.co.uk