A GUID Cause, the latest play from local playwright Irene Beaver, gets its world premiere at the Church Hill Theatre next week, when Edinburgh People’s Theatre (EPT) step back in time to become part of the women’s suffrage movement.
Set between 1912 and 1914, A Guid Cause tells the story of five Edinburgh women who were supporters of the suffragettes.
Recalling how the piece came about, Beaver says, “A couple of years ago, a friend was telling me of this book about Scottish Suffragettes by Leah Leneman. She suggested I write a play on the subject.
“I had never written a ‘straight’ play before, only Scots comedies, but I felt that this subject needed to be taken seriously.
“When Edinburgh People’s Theatre was deciding on its programme for this year, it was agreed that I could direct A Guid Cause.”
It’s the perfect time to stage such a piece Beaver explains.
“At this point in Scottish history, after the referendum, just after a general election, with many female MPs and MSPs and with Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister, this is the ideal time to have a play about female emancipation.
“With one of the characters a committed Christian, I was also able to develop the ‘love thy neighbour’ theme, to point towards Human and Gay Rights.”
For the EPT cast, all far too young to have been around in those far distant days, the piece has been an eye-opener, reveals the writer and director.
“The ‘girls’ have said that they have learned a lot about the suffrage movement and about the politics of the day.
“The play covers quite a narrow time span and takes place in the one shop, a ‘hub of suffrage activity’ where the five women tell the story of how they became involved in the movement.
“Four are working class and one is a ‘lady’, and my actors are performing with such passion that the characters could be real.
“I love the way that they bring out any humour in the script and sometimes, when they are talking about the more harrowing aspects of being a suffragette, like force-feeding, it brings tears to my eyes.
“I’m very proud of them.”
A Guid Cause, Church Hill Theatre, Morningside Road, 27-29 May, 7.30pm, 30 May, 2.30pm, £10, 0333-666 3366