Pilgrims’ Progress? From Suffragettes to Margaret Thatcher and Beyond

Exeter Northcott Theatre - Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4QB

23rd May 2013 at 19:00

Running time: 1hr 30mins

A panel discussion inspired by the Great Suffrage Pilgrimage of 1913 with Bidisha, Rachel Holmes, Julia Neville and Michelle Ryan.

In 1913, the Great Suffrage Pilgrimage saw thousands of women march across Britain to Hyde Park. Inspired by Exeter-based ring-leaders, a group of women walked from Land’s End, sharing the journey with others, focussed on problems of child poverty, people trafficking and sweated labour.  In July, Dreadnought South West will be following in their footsteps with the specially commissioned play Oxygen by Natalie McGrath. To herald the production’s arrival in July, the Exeter Northcott Theatre is collaborating with the University of Exeter to host a panel discussion about women’s rights from 1913 to the present day.  The death of Margaret Thatcher gives a special urgency to the question of how much progress women have made. The evening will begin with a sneak preview from the play and we anticipate some lively audience participation.

Feminist broadcaster, writer and critic Bidisha will be in the Chair and other speakers will include historian and cultural commentator Rachel Holmes (co-editor of the new collection, 50 Shades of Feminism), Michelle Ryan, co-inventor of the notion of the “glass cliff” for women, and Exeter-based community historian Julia Neville, whose research on woman suffrage informs the play.

Panel Biographies

Bidisha is a writer, critic and TV and radio broadcaster specialising in the arts and culture, social justice and international affairs. She has judged the Orange, Somerset Maugham and John Llewellyn Rhys Prizes, and is the author of two novels, a bestselling travel memoir, Venetian Masters, and a reportage from the West Bank. She is currently working for the Gates Foundation, reporting on international development, and doing outreach work in UK detention centres and prisons. Her fifth book, about asylum seekers and refugees, will be out next year.

Rachel Holmes is a writer, activist, historian and cultural programmer. Her new book is about Eleanor Marx, following biographies of Dr James Barry and The Hottentot Venus – Saartjie Baartman. She directed the Southbank Centre Literature and Spoken Word programme and is Writer in Residence at the PALFEST Palestine Writing Workshop in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. She received an Arts Council cultural leadership award as one of Britain’s Fifty Women to Watch.

Michelle Ryan is Professor of Social and Organisational Psychology, University of Exeter, one of two psychologists to define the “glass cliff,” a situation in which women and other minorities are likely to be placed in leadership positions that are risky or precarious. Her research focuses on women’s under-representation in traditionally male-dominated sectors e.g. surgery or science or traditionally masculine roles such as leadership.  Her work on the glass cliff was named by the New York Times as one of 2008’s top 100 ideas.

Julia Neville worked for many years as a Senior Manager and Executive Director in the NHS, and has since become an Honorary Research Fellow in the University of Exeter’s Centre for Medical History. She researches public policy, health and gender, and is a community historian working with Exeter Civic Society, Honiton Senior Voice, Poltimore House Trust and Dreadnought South West.

Tickets: £7
Concs: £5

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