Studying, performing and engaging with feminist theatre from a century ago has pretty much ruined the past three years of theatre-going for me - and in many ways I couldn't be more pleased. I feel awake.
You might have read my blog post about the Actresses' Franchise League and their conversation with a manager of the Empress Rooms in London in 1914...
If you haven't then please do by clicking here!
I took advantage of the newly opened Newsroom at the British Library to look up the original story in the Daily News... hoping that it might be possible to find which member of the AFL had drawn the sketches... and discovered that Votes for Women had put a rather positive spin on the end of the story,
one which I had believed and then blogged about.
Picture the scene thus:
Two Edwardian actresses meet
whilst walking through Covent Garden.
It's a balmy afternoon some time in autumn 1913.
I've created an Actresses' Franchise League version of the popular 2048 game - it's like a sliding block puzzle game. Here's a screenshot of what it looks like:
Last week the press reported negative comments made by the leader of UKIP about working women who take time off to have families - challenged about his views on working mothers he said "I can't change biology"
This old-fashioned (to be kind) and backward (to be honest) view reminded me of some equally ridiculous and sexist discrimination towards working women - in this case actresses - almost exactly a century ago...
On 29th January 1914 the Actresses' Franchise League held a Tea Dance at the Empress Rooms in Kensington.
It was a fundraiser for the League and as well as
Tea and the Tango, there were all sorts of other entertainments, including palmistry.
Well-known actresses became waitresses for the occasion to serve the tables and thereby hangs a tale...
Paddington Swimming Baths - July 9th 1909
Women only Swimming Entertainment! 8.30-10.30pm
This little duologue, by 'A. L. Little' appears in the 9th May 1913 edition of newspaper of the Women's Freedom League, the Vote.
"Uncle McKenna" is supposed to be the the Liberal MP Reginald McKenna, who was the Home Secretary from 1911-1915. The duologue refers to the Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill Health) Act of 1913, a piece of hotly contested legislation popularly known as the "Cat and Mouse Act" which allowed suffragette hunger-strikers to be forcibly fed to the point of near death, then released on license to recuperate and imprisoned again to continue their sentence as soon as they were well enough... and when they were back in prison they went on hunger-strike and were forcibly fed to the point of near death at which point they were released on license to recuperate and imprisoned again to continue their sentence as soon as they were well enough... [repeat]
You can read about it online here and the debates in the House of Commons are available to read on Hansard.
Interesting that the "cat" in this duologue is female rather than male... does that make it seem more or less cruel?
Thoughts, reflections, bits of research