Chrystal and the General

Written: 2009

This came about for two reasons:

• to commemorate the centenery of the great Women’s March for Suffrage that took place in Edinburgh in October 1909. A group of volounteers organised a special march through Edinburgh and myself and some women friends devised this piece to form part of the celebration.
• to celebrate the work of my late partner, Sue Innes, and her work on the Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women (Edinburgh University Press).

We dramatised the lives of two early twentieth century feminists: Flora Drummond, a fierce suffragette leader who often broke the law and was often imprisoned for her actions, and Chrystal Macmillan, a suffragist and lawyer who chose to work within the law to bring about change.

A group of us devised and created it together: Rachel Amey, Suzanne Dance, Clunie McKenzie, and myself.

It’s an experiment in form, again designed to be performed anywhere. The audience sit in a circle with the performers, who tell the women’s stories, and interweave them with the stories of their own activism and revolt.

The audience are encouraged to tap out suffragette messages in morse code, join the two activists, reflect on their own lives, and participate in a discussion on the issues raised.

We revived it in 2011 for the Department of Politics in Edinburgh University.

I’m proud of it. Susie would have approved.