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DAMES and DAREDEVILS for DEMOCRACY
Winning Ballot Box Equality for Australian women
Ten feisty Australian suffragists – who helped to win the vote and the right to stand for Parliament for Australian women - will be given new life in the Queensland premiere of Phyl Lobl’s Dames and Daredevils for Democracy.
While English suffragettes such as the Pankhurst sisters are globally recognised, our Australian women activists have gone largely unrecognised; activists such as Muriel Matters, who took the struggle for women’s suffrage to imaginative lengths. Her exploits included hiring a dirigible to drop leaflets over London and chaining herself in the British House of Parliament - with a companion - under their clothes to the grille erected to keep women from the main body of the chamber. Male officials called to remove them were obliged by social propriety to remove the women and the grille – still connected.
Other women featured in the production include Dame Edith Cowan, who features on the $50 note; Louisa Lawson, mother of Henry Lawson and publisher of Australia’s first literary magazine for women; Henrietta Dugdale, who destroyed her whalebone corset in an act that helped liberate women’s bodies as well as their minds and Vida Golsdstein, who achieved international acclaim as a spokeswoman for ballot-box equality.
Phyl Lobl, a respected folk singer-songwriter and activist, researched the various strategies adopted by ten leading Australian suffragists to create Dames and Daredevils, which commemorates the struggle and achievements of those women whose place in Australian history has been largely unremarked and unpraised.
"I structured the production around the different strategies that the women employed," says Phyl.
"Every woman had her own action 'call-sign' that proffered the opportunity of writing a specialised song for each of them, with lyrics and melodies that matched their tactics."
"I was inspired by their bravery and their determination. Despite the vast differences in their backgrounds and upbringing they generated an amazing level of cooperation around the world, even winning support from far-sighted and intelligent men of the time."
Phyl says that the international mutual support afforded by the groups was epitomised by two of the Australian women, Dora Montefiore and Muriel Matters, both going to Holloway Gaol in England because of their actions in support of the English suffragettes. But for all their passion and determination the Australian women – suffragists rather than suffragettes – called for non-violence in their protest.
"Those women were so spirited and resolute – and astonishingly, most Australians know nothing of them," says Phyl. "I wrote this piece of our history in the hope that it would help redress the balance."
Phyl’s work has been adapted for theatre by Jan Nary, who has drawn together and directed an enthusiastic and talented cast for a production that will be staged as a suffragists' meeting at Magda Community Artz. Music direction is under the skilful and practised eye of musician and choral conductor Ann Bermingham.
Audience members are encouraged to come in costume to re-live the struggles and victories of these iconic Australian women.
Theirs is a splendid story – and it’s not finished yet…
What they’re saying about the show!
Rarely has the long hard road of those who stand up for a fair go been made so vivid.
Bill Gammage - Author Biggest Estate on Earth
'Phyl Lobl and her cast have provided through the arts a remarkable performance and history lesson.' Frances Bedford MP - S.A.
....reveals the humour, compassion and zeal of our feminist forebears in an
For more information or to arrange a photocall or interview contact Jan Nary PR on 429 898 328.
Performance dates at Magda Community Artz, 80 Boundary Rd. Bardon;
Saturday 24 June 7.00pm
Prices; $25; concessions available. Magda events