Notes from #WHN2018

Hard to choose a manageable number of snippets to share from the inspiring, info-packed Women’s History Network 2018 conference at the University of Portsmouth last week. Here are a few with obvious connections to my work and/or Theatre Unbound’s:

  • The image above is from Victoria Iglikowski’s talk “RAIDED! What items seized in government raids can tell us about the Women’s Social and Political Union.” Ms. Iglikowski is from the UK National Archives, which owns the police records of the April 1913 raid on the WSPU offices in Lincoln’s Inn House. The Good Fight opens with this raid, so I was very eager to hear the talk. Not only did the police have the department listing, with the locations of each department and its employees, they also seized a bag of hammers, which was near the desk of office manager Harriet Kerr. The hammer handles were inscribed “WSPU” and were clearly intended for breaking windows. The police asked Miss Kerr what the hammers were for. She remarked that many of the WSPU employees were interested in home repair. Not only is this an excellent comeback, it’s evidence that the real Miss Kerr was something of a smart aleck, which pleases me, since my rendition of Miss Kerr is definitely a smart aleck.
  • Katharine Cockin’s talk “Edith Craig (1869-1947): Directing the Theatres of War for Women’s Suffrage” gave an overview of Craig’s career as well as information about the organizational nature of the Pioneer Players, which staged suffrage dramas. Prof. Cockin’s slide deck included a photo of Craig with playwright Christopher St. John. Theatre Unbound produced St. John’s translation of Hrotsvitha’s Dulcitius in 2005, but I had never seen a photo of her. I’m not sure, in fact, that I knew she was a woman at the time we produced the script. Seeing the photo gave me an extra surge of gratitude for the many women who have worked hard to preserve and disseminate the work of women artists.
  • I gave in to my fangirl impulses and asked for a selfie with Elizabeth Crawford, author of The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866-1928. Her entry on Grace Roe cemented my interest in Roe as a pivotal character. The entry ends with a quote from Roe: “Christabel was the apple of my eye.” Oh, my heart.

    AB with Elizabeth Crawford
    AB with Elizabeth Crawford

Talking the Good Fight

Tomorrow I head to Portsmouth, England to attend the 27th Annual Women’s History Network Conference. 2018 is the centenary of the granting of the Parliamentary vote to some categories of women in Britain. I’ll be giving a paper called “Women Cannot Fight, Therefore Women Cannot Vote: Staging the Suffragette Bodyguard,” describing the development of The Good Fight. The keynote speakers for the conference, June Purvis and Elizabeth Crawford, wrote two of the books I relied on heavily for the play. I feel a little bit like a fangirl.

An animated time capsule

My husband recently unearthed and transcribed some flip-book animations I made a long time ago. I had forgotten all about them. Seeing them again makes me marvel that I ever had time to do something so exacting just for fun. But as it happens, I’ve been working on some visual art tasks recently, including building props for Theatre Unbound’s A Gertrude Stein Christmas. I’ve been doing stuff like making swatches of herringbone stitch, and gluing styrofoam packing squiggles onto papier-mache sheep….So maybe things haven’t changed that much in the time it took to forget I made these.

Once more into the Good Fight

I’m just back from Chicago, where I went to attend the first table read of the Babes with Blades production of The Good Fight. It’s a tremendously sharp team, and I can’t wait to see what they create.

I’ve done some rewrites on the script since Theatre Unbound produced it in 2012, largely based on feedback from its presentation at the Great Plains Theatre Conference in 2014, guided by dramaturg Heather Helinsky. Most notably, the show no longer opens with Mrs. Pankhurst’s speech from the dock.
Continue reading Once more into the Good Fight

Cleo’s roses (and other flowers)

Lately I’ve been helping my mom go through some of her mother’s things. I’ve learned that Gramma liked to take pictures of flower arrangements.

Sometimes the flowers have some context. This one is labeled “Cleo’s Birthday 1981 from Joy” (Gramma’s name was Cleo), and I recognize Gramma’s dining room furniture.

Others are in places I can’t identify.

Continue reading Cleo’s roses (and other flowers)

Remembering Agnes and Sean

In the last few weeks, two people died who were very important to me.

Agnes Wilcox was the founder of Prison Performing Arts, a multi-discipline, literacy and performing arts program that serves incarcerated adults and children in Missouri. Before she started PPA, she ran TNT: The New Theatre in St. Louis. TNT’s project to create a play about the inner-city Soulard neighborhood was my first playwriting gig. (I started out as a poet.) Agnes directed, dramaturged, shepherded that show, and the process made me fall in love with the collaborative trip of theatre.

Continue reading Remembering Agnes and Sean

The Bridges of Hennepin County

Much of the work I do for ADV Document Systems is for private companies and therefore not something I can share, but here’s an exception: Electronic Document Information GUI Search (eDIGS), a website that gives access to maps, permits and other public records at the Minnesota Department of Transportation. It is the successor to a site that was in place for many, many years, but which was not easily viewable on tablets or phones, and also a bit hard to support because it required users to have Java installed.

Continue reading The Bridges of Hennepin County

Scruffy history

Babes With Blades just announced the cast for their 2018 production of The Good Fight. I thought I’d mark the occasion by re-posting an entry I wrote for Theatre Unbound’s production in 2012, about the struggle for women’s rights in the USA.

In the spring of 2000, I was on a solo road trip to upstate New York and noticed an exit for Seneca Falls. Seneca Falls was, of course, the location of the First Women’s Rights Convention in July of 1848. The Convention was organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Martha Wright, and Mary Ann M’Clintock, and it culminated in the signing of a “Declaration of Sentiments,” modeled on the Declaration of Independence.

Continue reading Scruffy history

Shortcode for phpinfo

It’s been quite a while since I posted anything on the IT side. Today I’ve been doing some troubleshooting, trying to figure out why I can get the latest version of WordPress installed on a development site but not on the live site. One useful bit of information is, what version of PHP is the site running? There are slightly involved ways to find out, but here was a bit of code I simply had to add to the functions.php file for my theme, then put the [phpinfo] shortcode on a page, display the page, and voilá, all the info I could ever need.

Mother Antonia in her element

A couple of photos of this year’s performance of “The Fundamentals, with Mother Antonia” at the St. Catherine University Reunion. I think you can see that the actor, Megan Campbell Lagas, is enjoying herself. The enjoyment was catching! When she described the Katies’ 1920 basketball victory against the Gophers, the audience cheered.

Last year’s performance inspired someone to share the story of that game. I wonder what stories will surface this year….