A major last-minute funding appeal is being made to the public and Hebridean businesses to support the production of a dramatic new play which shows what life was really like for Hebridean women a century ago – by telling their actual stories.
Deeds Not Words is a new bilingual play that reveals the achievements of Hebridean women during World War One and the struggle of these women in the fight for women's right to vote.
But its local tour throughout the Islands cannot take place unless more than £6,000 is raised in the next week as match funding for money from the public sector.
An appeal is being made for individual donations through http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/deeds-not-words-a-hebridean-womens-play
And businesses are being asked to donate as sponsorship in return to publicity at the venues from the Isle of Lewis to the Isle of Barra.
The proposed venues include Bernera Community Centre, Leverburgh Hall, Carinish Hall, Stoneybridge Hall and Castlebay Community Hall.
Businesses are being asked to give £250 to £500, which can also be done through http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/deeds-not-words-a-hebridean-womens-play
The production has been organised by Rural Nations Scotland CIC, based in Stornoway.
But the money has to be raised in a week! The deadline is July 31st and at least £6,000 is needed, although the full cost of the tour is £12,500.
The play presents recently uncovered stories of Island women and their lives locally, nationally and in Europe, during the suffrage period of 1911 to 1918.
Deeds not Words uses these stories to create a fast moving contemporary performance using storytelling, short dialogue scenes, Hebridean humour, filmic sections, Gaelic song, music and soundscape.
Up until 1914 and the outbreak of war, Hebridean women brought back £75,000 of earnings every year from the herring gutting stations down the East Coast – triple the earnings of men from the fishery. Then their economy collapsed – but they were much sought after by the munitions factories across the UK, where they became involved in the football-playing social revolution. And they took part in the war on other Fronts as well, such as in Serbia.
During the play, a multiplicity of perspectives and stories emerge. Whilst some are brief, fragmentary even, the stories of Katie, Christine and Helen, become more involved and dramatic.
In 1911, Katie Macleod was engaged to a minister but the engagement was broken off after she was slandered by another man. She sued, went to court, defending her reputation under lengthy cross examination and won her case.
Christina Morrison campaigned for improved working conditions on behalf of 70 local fish workers. By the 1910s, young, working class Hebridean women were already used to working away from home in the fish gutting yards around the coast of the UK. Paid employment, hard work and contact with the outside world were not new for them in WW1.
Helen's story takes us to the edge of women’s experience. Dr Helen Macdougall from Barvas joined the Scottish Women's Hospitals in 1914, an all female medical corps, set up by the NUWSS (National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies) and served in Serbia as an X-Ray specialist.
The performances provides an opportunity for islanders to celebrate these remarkable achievements and give Hebridean women the recognition they deserve.
Rural Nations Scotland CIC aims to inspire today's women to engage with political and local representation and take action in their own communities.
Contributions are required to bring the show to audiences across the Western Isles. The show will first appear in An Lanntair Arts Centre, Stornoway (August 24th-26th) and then – it is hoped - tour through the Outer Hebrides.
The new writing commission for Deeds not Words was funded by CnES and a local bequest from Janet Macleod (1935-2014).
Teatermaskinen in Riddarhyttan Sweden have invited Rural Nations to present the work on tour in Sweden in 2018 and
Deeds not Words has been selected as the Hebrides show to be performed as part of the Reclaim the Future Project and will be reinvented and presented in Dunkirk, France in 2018.