|reporting the edge||credits|
home | about | news | contents | gossip | photographs | venues | brighton | dublin | edinburgh | film | features | interviews | awards | fashion | recipes | no more drinks | newsletter | links | contact
Fringe Report is now closed. Fringe Report closed on its 10th anniversary, Thursday 12 July 2012. It remains online as a record of 10 exciting years in the arts. Till July 2013, previously unwritten content is being added to the site from the past 10 years, but we are no longer reviewing new material. You can still write to us on the existing email addresses. Good luck with your shows.
A Century of Great Women
A celebration of women from the last hundred years.
A Century of Great Women is monologues of 24 famous women around the world whose achievements have influenced modern history. They are played by a cast of 9 women. There's no interval. The performance is broken up by songs sung by the cast with an on-stage keyboard player.
All cast members are on stage throughout the show, except for costume changes. Staging is simple: a few chairs which the cast sit on and move around. Above the actors are artefacts - paintings of women from the Victorian period, helmets, exotic fruits - representing the different times and cultures of the characters. Costumes are skirts or dresses relevant to the character.
The show opens with the cast singing together Oh Dear What Can The Matter Be? by L May Wheeler. British political activist and leader of the British suffragette movement Emmeline Pankhurst (1858-1928) (Georgia Miles) delivers an inspirational speech which helped women win the right to vote. British writer Vera Brittain (1893-1970 ) (Georgia Miles), in contemporary nurse's uniform, recounts her experiences during World War One (1914-1918). Ethel Rosenburg (1915-1953) (Georgia Miles) reads a letter to her two sons on the day of her execution, 19 June 1953.
There's physicist and chemist Marie Curie (1867-1934) (Alison Mead), a prominent scientist of her time. Marie Stopes (1880-1958) (Alison Mead) speaks at the opening of her first contraceptive clinic - including a letter from someone wanting help to stop having children, highlighting the need and desire for the clinic.
British humanitarian and nurse Edith Cavell (1865-1915) (Geraldine Newman) reads a letter. The first woman to sit as a Member of Parliament (MP) in the British House of Commons - Nancy Astor (1879-1964) (Geraldine Newman) - gives a speech to the Commons. Other cast play her politician audience, nodding and mumbling where appropriate. Writer Dame Iris Murdoch (1919-1999) (Geraldine Newman), in trousers and grey jumper, reads a letter the writer reading a letter.
American Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) (Pat Starr), dressed in white, addresses the United Nations in 1948 on human rights and the rights of choice. American novelist Martha Gellhorn (1908-1998) is played by Pat Starr.
British World War Two (1939-1945) secret agent Violette Szabo (1921-1945) (Josephine Arden) says she wants to kill every German agent for the death of her husband. Her speech is full of anger and grief, her costume a blue and white dress. American actor Judy Garland (1922-1969) (Josephine Arden) reads a love letter addressed to Frank. Sailor Dame Ellen MacArthur (b1976) (Josephine Arden) talks to the press about a race.
Miss Margaret Roberts (Baroness Thatcher, b 1925) (Debbie Yearsley), in trademark blue cropped jacket and dress, makes a political speech on personal responsibility. Hollywood actor Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962) (Debbie Yearsley) sings I'm Through With Love.
Rosa Parks (1913-2005) (Cleo Sylvestre) sings We Shall Not Be Moved; the cast joins in from the second chorus. She sits to speak about what went through her mind when she sat down on a bus to make a civil rights protest. American-born French performer Josephine Baker (1906-1975) (Cleo Sylvestre) is interviewed at 67 about her move from the USA to Paris where she has had success, and the 12 adopted children from around the world she lovingly calls rainbow children. Kenyan political and environmental activist and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai (b 1940) (Cleo Sylvestre) speaks.
British model Christine Keeler (b 1942) (Katy Federman) recreates a celebrated photo posing in a chair; she talks about what became known as the Profumo Affair. Australian-born feminist and writer Professor Germaine Greer (b 1939) (Katy Federman) speaks. JK Rowling OBE (b 1965) (Katy Federman), wearing a smart black suit, makes a strong speech titled The Fringe Benefits Of Failure to Harvard graduates.
Indian politician Phoolan Devi (1963-2001) (Norma Dixit) expresses her political views on the need for more hospitals, a ban on children being made to marry, and violence against women. Retail chain Body Shop founder Dame Anita Roddick (1942-2007) (Norma Dixit) speaks. Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi (b 1945) (Norma Dixit)'s speech closes the show. The cast are played out to the song Saltwater (by Mark Spiro, Leslie Spiro, Julian Lennon).
Cast Credits (alpha order): Josephine Arden - Violette Szabo, Judy Garland, Ellen MacArthur. Norma Dixit - Phoolan Devi (with Debbie Yearsley), Anita Roddick, Aung San Suu Kyi. Katy Federman - Christine Keeler, Germaine Greer, JK Rowling. Alison Mead - Marie Curie, Marie Stopes. Georgia Miles - Emmeline Pankhurst, Vera Brittain, Ethel Rosenburg. Geraldine Newman - Edith Cavell, Nancy Astor, Iris Murdoch. Pat Starr - Eleanor Roosevelt, Martha Gellhorn. Cleo Sylvestre - Rosa Parks, Josephine Baker (with Pat Starr), Wangari Maathai. Debbie Yearsley Miss Margaret Roberts, Marilyn Monroe.
Song Credits: [title - sung by (writers)]: Oh Dear What Can the Matter Be - Company (L May Wheeler). Don't Fence Me In - Pat Starr (Music: Cole Porter. Lyrics: Robert Fletcher & Cole Porter). How About You? - Pat Starr (Music: Burton Lane. Lyrics: Ralph Freed). We Shall Not Be Moved - Company (Traditional). I'm Through With Love - Debbie Yearsley (Music: Matt Malneck & Fud Livington. Lyrics: Gus Kahn). I Am Woman - Debbie Yearsley (Music: Ray Burton. Lyrics: Helen Reddy). Saltwater - Company (Mark Spiro, Leslie Spiro, Julian Lennon).
Company Credits: Deviser - Alison Mead. Director - Alison Mead. Musical Director - Emma Finlay. Technical Operator - uncredited. Production Assistant - Diane Thomas. Production Manager - Ashleigh German. Producer - uncredited. Website - www.three4all.org. Company - Three4all Theatre.
(c) Claudia Nettleford 2011
reviewed Monday 28 March 2011 / Rose Theatre, Bankside, London
Fringe Report (c) Fringe Report 2002-2013