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The Dawn is Breaking

History at Large, Salisbury, Wiltshire

The Blackledge Theatre
The Blackledge Theatre
(click for fullsize photo)

"The Dawn is Breaking" by George Fleming
at The Blackledge Theatre, Godolphin School, Salisbury, Wiltshire

Thursday March 29th, Friday March 30th, Saturday March 31st 2001
at 7.30pm

From the writer:

The idea for this piece first came to me seven years ago, after the Salisbury Community Play of 1997-The Lark Still Bravely Singing.

In researching and writing that, I unearthed a considerable amount of material on the women's suffrage campaign, as it happened here in Salisbury. Unfortunately, in a play covering a much wider span of events, there was not much room for it and most of the material lay 'on file' unused. That which was used had to be truncated, or the piece would have run for four hours!

I thought at the time that it might be worth producing a script which did more justice to the women's story. This proved less easy than it seemed, because the ladies of Salisbury were emphatically non militant! They were adamant from the start that they were Suffragists and not Suffragettes and they set their face against the civil disobedience and illegalities of Mrs. Pankhurst's branch of the movement. They fought with words and argument, which were less easily dramatised.

This forced me to depart from my normal practice of sticking closely to pure documentary - though about two thirds of the script has been lifted from the newspaper accounts of events in Salisbury and elsewhere. Thankfully, reporters in those days reported speeches almost verbatim, even to telling us what the hecklers said!

I have tried to stick to these words as far as possible, but I have also added scenes and dialogue which encapsulate many of the attitudes and opinions which I came across, but for which the documentary evidence here in Salisbury is sparse - for instance the feeling of many intelligent women, during The Great War, that their abilities were not being used properly by the Nation. We know that this belief was widespread and that it existed in Salisbury - but there isn't all that much quotable "docudrama" about it.

Some of the scenes may seem a bit too good to be true, but one of the things which struck me about the original material was how well coincidence actually worked for me, as a scriptwriter!

The Salisbury Times did report, in one edition, Mrs. Pankhurst's Suffragettes rioting (with some justification) in London, The Women's Freedom League being shouted down at meetings in Salisbury, and twenty Salisbury ladies founding the Salisbury branch of the suffrage movement.

The Journal did report, in one edition, Emily Wilding Davidson running in front of the Derby and Helen Fraser's highly successful open air meetings in the Salisbury Market Square. And, yes, a Godolphin teacher really did see items used to help wounded soldiers which might have come from one of the school's speciality war-efforts!

So is this History or Theatre?

I hope it is both - though, of course, it may be neither! Our aim as a company is always to offer you enjoyable and informative entertainment. There are more narrative devices than you will normally find in a play, but more colour and drama than you will normally find in a history lesson!

I hope that one does not totally destroy the other and that you enjoy tonight's offering.

George Fleming

Director - Barry J Keel

Cast - in order of appearance:

Narrator - Holly Smith
Actress - Heather Spurr
Actor - Nino Pelopida
18th cent Gentleman - George Fleming
18th cent Lady - Pat Peters
Interlocutor Man - Philip Hurst
Suffragist Interlocutor - Ruth Buckingham
Victorian Gentleman - Nino Pelopida
Florence Nightingale - Sheelagh Browne
Henry Fawcett MP - Richard Clark
Woman 1 - Frances Hall
Woman 2 - Heather Spurr
Mrs Pankhurst - Izzy Ford
Reporter - George Fleming
Chief Inspector Scantlebury - Ray Virr
Inspector Jarvis - Brian Hall
Suffragette 1 - Janet Street
Suffragette 2 - Jean Kolbe
Boys - Joel HoIt, Oliver Grigg
Policeman - Neil Whitton
Anti-Suffragette I - Michelle Tatner
Anti-Suffragette 2 - Hilary House
Suffragist 1 - Veronica Jackson
Suffragist 2 - Jacqui Cameron
Lady Pender - Heather Spurr
Locker Lampson MP - Graham Paramor
Reg - Peter Mitchell
Bert - Richard Clark
Fred - Roger Street
Kathy - Claire Martin
Elsie - lzzy Ford
Sal - Dee Mansfield
Miss Helen Fraser - Pat Peters
Drunk - Eddie Burton
Citizen 1 - Nino Pelopida
Citizen 2 - Brian Hall
Heckler - Roger Street
Sandwichboard man - Eddie Burton
Offical - John Baker
Lady - Heather Spurr
Mayor - Ray Virr
Army Officer - Brian Hall
Clergyman - Hugh Abel
Blanket collectors - Diane Cullum, Anne Fisher
Collector 1 - Rita Hope
Collector 2 - Frances Hall
Collector 3 - Pat Peters
Parcel Lady - Jean Kolbe
Lady 1 - Rita Hope
Lady 2 - Janet Street
Lady Maud Warringden - Rosemary Finney
Chairman - Nino Pelopida
Lady Smith-Dorrien - Heather Spurr
Salesman - George Fleming
Official - Nino Pelopida
Vapid Lady - Frances Hall
Schoolgirl 1 - Annie Masters
Schoolgirl 2 - Charlotte O'Brien
Wounded Soldier - Joe Rooney
VAD Woman - Heather Spurr
Soldier - Richard Clark
Civilian Member - Joe Rooney
Doctor - Nino Pelopida
Fishmonger - John Baker
Dairyman - Ron JuII
Male Agriculturalist - Eddie Burton
Lady Secretary - Frances Hall
Chairman - Joe Rooney
Lady Speaker - Jacqui Cameron
Landgirl 1 - Janet Street
Landgirl 2 - Pat Peters
Landgirl 3 - Heather Spurr

Soprano: Rosemary Finney

At the piano: Michael Warren

Vocals: Sue Paramor, Tressera, Kellye Curtis Gulliver


Production Facilitator - George Fleming
Stage Manager - Bill Daly
SM Construction - Mike Mansfield
Props - George Fleming
Lighting - Steve Lucas, Nick Comlay
Sound - Alistair Baker
Projection - Chris Angell
Wardrobe - Alison Babey
Wardrobe assistants - Pat Whitehead, Monica Foakes, Bridget Campbell Murdoch, Veronica Randle

Front of House:

David Brown
Sue Paramor
Pat Jull
David Bower
Joanna Newth

Foyer exhibition by Jane Howells


We wish to thank the following, without whose generosity and assistance we would not have been able to bring you this production -

The Godolphin School, Mr T Cottis - Bursar Godolphin School, Ottakar's Bookshop, Studio Theatre, Jenny Bayston, Mr Peter Daniels - the picture detective, Ros Liddington, The London Museum, The Fawcett Library, Moss Bros, The Black Horse Castle Street, The Salisbury Journal, The Alderbury Players, The Durrington Players, Paul Gulliver, Munch, Joy Hambrook, our two dogs

Director and cast
The director and some of the cast
(click for fullsize photo)
For more rehearsal photographs of
The Dawn is Breaking
see our
Pictures page

Show photos coming soon

Salisbury District Council South Wilts Area Grants Scheme

This production was sponsored by Salisbury District Council through the South Wilts Area Grants Scheme

and supported by:

The Godolphin School
The Godolphin School
Studio Theatre
Studio Theatre
Togs Costume Hire
Togs Costume Hire
Moss Bros
Moss Bros

For more information about History at Large please contact us

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