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Deeds Not Words

ORGANISATION // Rural Nations Scotland CIC
PROJECT // Deeds Not Words
TOTAL PROJECT COST // £36,600
LEADER FUNDING PROVIDED // £18,300

This application is for the production and touring in the Western Isles of Deeds not Words a new bi-lingual play (Gaelic and English) by Toria Banks, with dramaturgy support from Dr Anna Birch. The play will be co-produced with An Lanntair Arts Centre in Stornoway and will then tour to rural island venues in Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra giving a total of ten performances in the Outer Hebrides.


Using newly discovered historical material, the play reveals the remarkable achievements of Hebridean women during WW1 and the struggle of Hebridean women (marginalised by both gender and geography) in the fight for women's suffrage. In co-production with An Lanntair Arts Centre the play will present  contemporary performance using storytelling, abstract set and costume design, filmic sections, live music and new Gaelic song to explore these unique and previously untold stories. The play will be produced and directed by Lewis based theatre director Muriel Ann Macleod  and a company of three actresses and one singer. A new Gaelic music and Song commission will be undertaken by Mary Ann Kennedy. This new music commission will find new ways of looking at traditional Gaelic music and will include the commission of two new songs.
 The play focussing on women's role in Hebridean political history. Focussing on the period 1911-18, the play begins and ends with elections: the local By Election of 1911 (which brought the attention of the suffrage movement to Lewis), and the General Election of 1918. The play is the structured around the formation in 1911 of the Stornoway Suffrage Society. It had 25 members locally, only one of whom, Bella Mackinnon, is named in reports. During the play, there is focus an identifying the remaining 24, allowing a multiplicity of perspectives and stories to emerge. Whilst some are brief, fragmentary even, three others become more involved, dramatic stories.


The play is being developed to have  a further legacy beyond this initial presentation in the Hebrides it has been selected to be presented in French in Dunkirk in July 2018 with Compaine de Mers du Nord and to tour in English to venues in Sweden as part of a European  Partnership project Reclaim the Future which is already funded by Creative Europe.