The Cause

The Cause – An Overture of Rebellion and Revolt

Written by Natalie McGrath
Directed/Dramaturgy by Josie Sutcliffe

1913. Revolution stings the air.

In an orchard two women meet in secret. Their actions have divided them. Divided a nation. Split their cause in two.

What happens when the two women are suffrage leaders; Emmeline Pankhurst and Millicent Fawcett?

The Cause considers the impact of a lifetime of political campaigning on an individual.

Asking how far would you go for what you believe in?

The play begins with a new voice, a younger voice called Trumpet, who connects with us, acting as a bridge between one world and another. The past and the present:

“here we are, revolution stings the air, can you feel it? it is everywhere”

Set against the historical background of 1913; a time of heightened militant activity by the suffragettes & the great women’s suffrage pilgrimage led by law-abiding suffragists, we have conjured an imagined meeting between these two great women leaders & set it in an orchard. Natalie wanted the two women in a private space, outside in nature, unseen & unheard by any others. This ethereal setting “They are ghosts..” says Trumpet, releases us into realms where the imagination can run free from the constraints of historical fact. Where we can imagine a more visceral and human contact than that found in many historical dramas. What must it have been like to lead an ‘army’ of women in these times when women were not considered to have enough “competent understanding” to have the vote? What part does the natural world have to play in the fight for equality? What might happen between two women who respected each other whilst choosing different ways & means to achieve the same goal?

The Cause feels timely with the current energy and visibility of women’s rights and gender equality campaigning that is taking place, and the centenary of the first votes for some women. As we developed the work, we met many women who have been campaigning for a long time. I really felt those stories that were shared with us at Dreadnought very deeply, and they have emerged as being at the heart of this play about Millicent Fawcett and Emmeline Pankhurst.” Playwright Natalie McGrath

2018 is the centenary year of the Representation of the People’s Act; an Act which brought full enfranchisement to all men over the age of twenty-one, & granted the vote to some women over the age of 30 who met a property qualification. Around 8.5 million of women met this criteria, but this represented only 40% of women in the UK. Equal voting rights were not awarded to all women over 21 years until 1928. For more information have a look at parliamentary archives:

Dreadnought is touring The Cause across the South West as part of our ongoing work and commitment to championing stories about women’s activism.

Previously developed as The Orchard in 2015 with audiences across the South West, then at the Calm Down Dear Festival at Exeter Bikeshed Theatre in 2016, supported by Arts Council England South West.

For details of the Spring/Summer Tour click here

For details of the Autumn/Winter Tour click here

If you would like to talk to us about booking the show, please contact our Tour Manager Kerrie Seymour:

Supported by Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring programme, Exeter City Council, Foyle Foundation, Ronald Duncan Foundation, Fawcett Devon.