‘The Little Cabaret of Suffragette!’ is an original play by Belona Greenwood and performed by the Yakety Yak young actors company. The group will tour around Suffolk this autumn, telling the tale of local and national suffragettes as we celebrate the centenary of women winning the right to vote. I caught up with the cast to find out more about the play.
What can you tell us about the storyline of ‘The Little Cabaret of Suffragette’?
‘The Little Cabaret of Suffragette!’ was written by Norwich based author and playwright Belona Greenwood. The storyline mainly follows the lives of local and national Suffragists and Suffragettes in cabaret style with music and lyrics by Nick Murray Brown.
Belona researched and included a lot of historically correct trials and events that happened to local women in Felixstowe and Ipswich at the time of the suffrage movement, along with events from national campaigners.
Most recognizable female characters include: Millicent Fawcett (from Aldeburgh), Sophia Duleep Singh (Goddaughter of Queen Victoria from Elveden Hall, Norfolk), Christabel Pankhurst (Suffragette movement) and Kitty Marshall (Bodyguard to Emmeline Pankhurst).
Male characters include: Lord Asquith (Prime Minister), Castello (Sophia Duleep Singh’s Italian Lawyer), MPs, Home Office Officials and the Police.
In your video you mentioned that the performance would include women from Suffolk – was there a big suffragette movement in the county?
Yes. Millicent Fawcett set up and lead the NUWSS non militant organization which started in Aldeburgh, Suffolk (1890-1919). It soon had branches throughout the county including Halesworth and Lowestoft.
As a cast we visited the Hunny Bee Vintage Tea Rooms where the Lowestoft Suffragist Society held their meetings. In 1903 Emmeline Pankhurst formed the WSPU organization. After a number of years when the acts of parliament to grant women’s suffrage were denied, they decided to take direct action!
Do you think it’s important to continue to celebrate the work of the Suffragettes in light of the current Me Too Movement?
Yes, especially in this centenary year! The Suffragists and Suffragettes were campaigning against inequality in society. Through their struggle it is well documented about the horrific abuse they suffered which was physical, sexual and psychological. But since winning the right to vote since 1918 women have been empowered and this has given them the courage to challenge inequalities in the work place, at home and in the wider community. The Me Too Movement is a fantastic and important cause to stop abuse of women.
How did you all get involved with Yakety Yak?
Our talented cast of actresses and singers are all Suffolk and Norfolk based. A few of our cast members have worked with Yakety Yak before on projects such as ‘Hayfever’ and ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and were thrilled to be asked to work with the company again.
Other cast members were recommended and chosen by Mary Hunt (our wonderful producer) and Agnes Lillis (our fantastic director). ‘The Little Cabaret of Suffragette!’ is Yakety Yaks first ever entirely new creation.
What are you most looking forward to on the tour?
We are very much looking forward to showcasing this entirely new piece of theatre as well as celebrating the centenary of women winning the right to vote! It will give people a great opportunity to be reminded and educated about the tenacious bravery of these incredible women in an enjoyable and entertaining setting.
‘The Little Cabaret of Suffragette!’ will be at the Jubilee Hall in Aldeburgh on 22nd September, The Seagull in Lowestoft on 28th September, the Public Hall in Beccles on 5th October, The Cut in Halesworth on 6th October, Fisher Theatre in Bungay on 11th October and the Pavilion Theatre in Gorleston on 12th October.
‘The Little Cabaret of Suffragette!’ is currently crowdfunding to help meet production costs, they would be grateful for any contribution received – find out more by clicking here.