Votes for Women by Elizabeth Robins

Duration: 1 hour, 30 minutes

First broadcast: Sunday 15 September 2013

Listen at:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b039yhwb

Drama on 3 presents the first of three classic plays that responded to the growing freedom of women at the turn of the twentieth century.

Admired Conservative MP Geoffrey Stonor is relishing his engagement to the ebullient young heiress Jean Dunbarton until a chance encounter with the charismatic Vida Levering, an advocate of women's suffrage, appears to threaten them both – not just politically, but personally too.

Vida Levering ….. Zoe Tapper
Geoffrey Stoner ….. Samuel West
Jean Dunbarton ….. Charity Wakefield
Lady John ….. Sylvestra LeTouzel
Lord John ….. Michael Bertenshaw
Farnborough ….. Jolyon Coy
Mrs Freddy ….. Philippa Stanton
Lydia Heriot/working woman ….. Joanna Brookes
StJohn Greatorex ….. Sean Murray
Ernestine Blunt ….. Emerald O'Hanrahan
Mr Pilcher ….. Ben Crowe

Produced and directed by Marion Nancarrow

Votes for Women is a suffragette play, originally performed in 1907 at the Court Theatre (now the Royal Court), which remains both modern and surprisingly controversial. Writer Elizabeth Robins, an American actress, was hugely admired by London audiences at the time, most notably for her performance as Hedda Gabler. A philanthropist and doyenne of the literati, she was also famed for having pulled a gun on George Bernard Shaw when he made a pass at her! Votes for Women was originally written as a novel – Robins having done her research by interviewing women about their lives (this forms the middle of the play, set at a rally in Trafalgar Square). It was turned into a play when the suffragette movement realised the power of theatre to affect public opinion and, shortly after its run in London, Robins was instrumental in setting up the Actresses' Franchise League.

Zoe Tapper has most recently been seen in the TV series "Mr Selfridge" and Samuel West has most recently starred in "Hyde Park on Hudson".

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