Celebrate the rebel women of Norfolk in a new, free-to-watch theatre show in Norwich

All Mouth No Trousers (C) The Common Lot

All Mouth No Trousers (C) The Common Lot - Credit: The Common Lot

Norfolk theatre company The Common Lot is about to unveil its latest free-to-watch production which celebrates some of Norfolk's most radical women on audiences in pubs, chapels and coffee shops across Norwich. Find out how you can catch the show.

A new show celebrating Norfolk's radical women through story and song is being staged in pubs and other venues in Norwich.

All Mouth, No Trousers tells the tales of some of the county's forgotten female figures in a lively hour-long production from The Common Lot and is composed entirely of original material by members of the company.

Director and producer Siobhan O'Connor came up with idea for the show, which will be performed across the city from October 19, after playing Norwich-born Victorian sociologist Harriet Martineau in last year's award-winning show Come Yew In!

'We realised there were all these great Norfolk women that few people knew much about and I started to think it would be interesting to tell some of their stories,' she explains.

'With the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage – and then the gender pay gap being in the news, the take-off of the Me Too movement and the Women of the World festival coming to Norwich – it seemed to be the perfect time.'

Led by Dr Jeanette Baxter, senior lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University and director of arts-based research group, New Routes, Old Roots, Siobhan and her team began delving into the past.

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'We set up a citizen research group of male and female volunteers and came up with some incredible stories,' she says.

During the research process, the group was also taken on a city walk by local historian Gill Blanchard who showed them where significant Norwich women were born, lived and worked.

'We discovered there are more than 300 plaques in the city but only 25 are for women,' says Siobhan, who is also an English teacher at Wymondham High.

There were so many possible contenders for inclusion in the production that it was decided that those featured had to be radical in some way. A series of writing workshops for volunteers was then run, and the stories began to take shape.

'We now have a cast of eight actors and three musicians, ranging in age from 17 to late 60s,' says Siobhan.

'It was decided performances would largely take place in pubs and coffee shops – the kinds of places Harriet Martineau and other 19th century radicals held meetings. We have also included the Octagon Chapel on Colegate as that has a history of radicalism and dissent.'

The stories are told through monologue, dialogue, testimony and song, and are often humorous as well as thought-provoking.

They include the tale of Lorina Bulwer (1838 to 1912) who is thought to have been placed in a workhouse in Caister by her brother. Here she embroidered elaborate 12ft- and 14ft-long tapestries, in which she challenged authority and made her own personal protests.

Victorian lepidopterist Margaret Fountaine (1862 to 1940) is also featured. Born in Norwich, she is not only remembered for her natural history work, but also for her diaries. In accordance with her wishes, her travelling trunk remained sealed until 38 years after her death; when it was opened it was found to contain diaries with some unexpectedly candid entries about her personal life.

Another significant Norwich woman who appears in the production is one of the country's first female Labour MPs, Dorothy Jewson (1884 to 1964). A prominent local figure and member of the city council from 1927 to 1936, she was also a suffragette and lifelong anti-poverty campaigner.

'The performances are all free and should be interesting and entertaining to women and men of all ages,' Siobhan adds, 'we hope as many people as possible will come along to enjoy the show, which aims to be fun while also giving these great women of Norfolk a voice.'

Performances take place at:

*On Friday, October 19, 8pm, at the York Tavern, York Street

*On Saturday, October 20, 8pm, at the Octagon Chapel, Colegate

*On Sunday, October 21, 3pm, at Britannia Café, Waterloo Park

*On Saturday, October 27, 8pm, at The Coachmakers' Arms, St Stephen's Road

*On Sunday, October 28, 5pm, at The Louis Marchesi, Tombland

For more information visit www.thecommonlot.org