Whitchurch Rugby Club are hosting a new play on Wednesday, September 28, facilitated by Arts Alive. Award winning writer, comedian and performer Ruth E. Cockburn has written ‘Miss Nobodies’ a new two hander play celebrating female working class voices over the last 100 years.
Ruth asks, ‘What was it like to be a working-class woman in history and why is there so little literary evidence of it?’
Over the last couple of years Ruth has been researching, talking to people, visiting libraries and scouring book shops for female voices. She was made aware of a writer and activist called Ethel Carnie Holdsworth by Mid Pennine Arts. She is cited as the first female working class published author in the UK. Her first novel Miss Nobody was published in 1913 and she has a long list of articles, publications and books to her name, yet Ruth had never heard of her.
“Being a Lancashire lass myself” says Ruth “I was shocked that such an important figure hadn’t be celebrated more. I come from Blackpool; a place that I love yet has its own socioeconomic issues. If I had heard about a woman that taught herself to read whilst working from the age of 11 in the mills, went onto fight for women’s rights AND create amazing poetry and stories, I think I’d have listened in history lessons a bit more. As much as the corn laws and crop rotation is important to history, I reckon radical women would have been more my cup of tea.
“So, the idea for the show came about. Reading Ethel Carnie Holdsworth’s first novel Miss Nobody I was struck by the humour of it. It was like reading a Jenny Eclair book; rich with dark humour and beautiful language.
“As much as I love the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen, working class women like Ethel Carnie Holdsworth talked about the romance of choice, not the romance of marriage. It seemed so remarkable to me. Ethel talks of what it’s like to be a woman in difficult situations with such passion, I’d never heard the female experience talked about like that. I wanted to do something just like that. Make a show that people watch and recognise themselves.”
Over the research period Ruth has collected sound bites, long form stories and images from women all over Lancashire and they have been woven into the show and accompanying book.
She plans to continue to collect stories after each performance. These audience interviews will allow the show to evolve over the tour, whilst also saving the stories that might be lost, document the voices that might never be heard.
The show is described as funny, vibrant, thought-provoking show that uses Ethel Carnie Holdsworth’s poetry along with music, storytelling and laughs to tell the story of women through our recent history.
Miss Nobodies comes to Whitchurch Rugby Club on Wednesday, September 28 at 7:30pm. The show is suitable for ages 12+.
For more information and to buy tickets visit www.artsalive.co.uk.