Published: 28th July 2016

Brilliant news for Canny Craic!  The Heritage Lottery Fund have given us a grant to write and produce The Wild Lassie – a mixture of drama and learning illustrating the struggles and triumphs of the Suffragettes and Suffragists in the North East including Emily Wilding Davison, whose family were from the Morpeth area, and who died after colliding with Amner – the Kings horse at the 1913 Epsom Derby.  She is The Wild Lassie of the title: so named by local people because of the lengths she would go to in promoting the idea of Votes for Women.  Emily returned to the family home in Longhorsley to recover her health after her many prison terms, hunger strikes and force feeding sessions.  Emily, a devout Christian, was buried in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin in Morpeth.  Because some Suffragettes (though not Emily) attacked churches the Vicar of St Mary the Virgin would not allow them to hold a memorial service the following yearemily-davison-image-3-629984918

This photograph shows Emily’s funeral procession from the railway station at Morpeth to St Mary the Virgin’s Church on 15 June 1913, the day after thousands of people lined the streets of London when her coffin was taken from St George’s Church to the railway station for her journey home.

The grant will enable us, amongst other things, to employ 3 excellent professional actresses who will play a variety of roles as we tour venues in the region with what can be described as a ‘roadshow’ as it includes drama and music. Scenes from meetings, prisons and a short Question Time type ‘show’ will inform and at times shock the audiences. There will also be a visit from Emily’s ghost to explain what happened at Epsom in 1913.  At various points the audience will be able to question the actors in role – the Forum technique allows the audience to interact with the ‘real life’ characters and makes the scenes and issues memorable.

By the way in case you are wondering Suffragettes believed in protesting by almost any means including breaking the law e.g. trespassing in Parliament, setting fire to post boxes, breaking windows etc.  Suffragists believed in the same ideals of votes for women and universal suffrage including votes for ‘ordinary’ men – but by peaceful and persuasive means rather than ‘direct action’.  Both factions suffered from brutal treatment by the police.

The tour will include libraries, community centres and schools: it was a number of schools who asked us to do sessions on the suffragettes after we ‘wowed’ them with Freeborn John last October (also funded by the wonderful HLF – did I mention how fantastic the Heritage Lottery Fund are?)  The general public sessions – specific venues and dates and times coming soon – will be free of charge and will take place between 11th – 21st October 2016.