Theatre-maker Phoebe Kemp, with funding from Arts Council England and the support of Town Hall Arts Trowbridge, has been working with a group of collaborators to spend recent weeks exploring how to turn a treasure-trove of historical research on the life of Rosa ‘May’ Billinghurst into an engaging and theatre show for a contemporary audience.
May was a young woman at the turn of the 20th Century who grew up in London, conscious of the massive social injustice that was the legacy of the industrial revolution. She was also wheelchair-user. When Phoebe discovered the huge unpublished archive of letters, articles and papers relating to May, she knew she had to bring her story to life.
Phoebe, who is also a wheelchair-user, approached theatre maker Lizzie Crarer (The Heroine Project Presents) to help her develop a one-woman show about May. Phoebe’s other collaborators were: theatre-maker Alison Farina (Butterfly Psyche); actors Ed Browning and Stephanie Hazel; and designer Natalie Remington. Lizzie describes her experience of working with a group of 5 other theatre artists, exploring a story of politics, protest and, ultimately, hope in a blog article on the Town Hall Arts website.