V4W poster

A new play presented by Empty Box Theatre Company (show dates and times below)

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The earth shakes beneath the tread of common sense shoes. The rustling and crackling of paper sounds like distant fire of skirmishers. From the four winds comes the low hum of incipient oratory like the buzz of angry bees or the first muttering of a storm. The suffragettes are coming!

  – Toronto Daily Star, Jan 9th 1909.

Six women in search of women’s right to vote in Canada.

Six women who will act, sing, dance, play instruments, do stand-up, fight, tumble, and mock their way into Parliament.

Votes for Women (and Other Lies) revolves around the suffrage movement in Toronto, Canada, at the beginning of the 20th century. 100 years ago immigration, women’s clothing, and substance legalization were major topics of debate, pop culture was heavily based on cultural appropriation (ragtime, orientalism) and society was faced with immense changes in technology (cars, planes, telephones).

Across the world, the suffrage movement was building quickly- English militant “suffragettes” made the news in Canada every week for new protests, bombings and acts of vandalism. Meanwhile, a group of women in Toronto led protests, wrote editorials, sang satirical songs, and ran educational campaigns in order to gain political attention and alter the status of women in Canada.

These feminists of the 1910s included Dr. Augusta Stowe-Gullen (the first woman to receive a medical degree in Canada), Laura McCully (a poet who claimed she would kill for the right to vote), and Flora MacDonald Denison (a radical feminist journalist/ dressmaker who challenged the institution of marriage).

This play aims to investigate Toronto suffragists from all angles; from their personal lives to their public activism, their heroic deeds and classist/racist ideologies, their conservative ideals and their radical social reforms. Rather than present a historically accurate “here’s how it was” narrative, our goal is to use the historical context as a background on which to investigate ideas like the relationship between 21st century feminists and our forebears, and the Canadian electoral process and its relationship to the concepts of “voting”, “democracy” and “reform”.

Votes was devised using a variety of physical and music-based) techniques and writing exercises to develop a surreal, comedic piece. The workshop production may or may not include: musical numbers, suffragette jujitsu, sketch comedy, full-face makeup, “maternal feminist” eugenics, a mock parliament, and a bunch of ladies trying to change the world.

To this day, Canada has never elected a female prime minister. Our aim is to keep asking questions, whether we discover the answers or not. We invite the audience to join us, as we dig through archives, browse through webpages, and wave our banners in protest.

Votes for Women (and Other Lies) will be presented at the Fringe Creation Lab.

4th floor, 720 Bathurst Street, Toronto, ON M5S 2R4

Saturday, May 7th - 8 PM
Sunday, May 8th - 8 PM
Friday, May 13th - 8 PM
Saturday, May 14th - 2 PM
Saturday, May 14th - 8 PM

Follow us on social media with the hashtag: #becauseit’s1914

{ Stay tuned for updates on when and where to buy tickets. }