Ruth Lawrence’s historical walking tour Other Women Walk Tells Stories from the Margins of Newfoundland’s Suffrage Movement.
For two weeks this summer audiences will assemble in the corner of Bannerman Park near Winterholme and be met by Helen Furey (played by Bridget Wareham) who will transport them to 1922 to share the stories of women who felt left out of Newfoundland’s suffrage movement.
Furey will guide the crowd through the park, introducing them to a housekeeper, a sex worker, and the treasurer of the ladies branch of the Newfoundland Industrial Workers Association. Over the course of the tour, Furey also opens up to the audience, revealing a little bit about her own life as a barkeep in downtown St. John’s.
“Most of these women are single, some of them are single mothers or about to be mothers. They’re not living a middle-class lifestyle of being married with children and being supported by a family or husband. These women were very much on the margins of society,” Lawrence explained.
Both accomplished actors and screenwriters, Lawrence and Sherry White came up with the idea for the hour-long tour after going to see a performance of Paul Rowe’s Fleming at the Basilica together. In Rowe’s show, he plays Bishop Anthony Michael Fleming and escorts audiences through the church, giving a dramatic monologue that explains the Bishop’s role in the construction of the Basilica. Lawrence and White were inspired to create a piece of historical theatre that uses the city as a setting in the way Rowe’s piece does, but focused specifically on women’s experiences.
Initially Lawrence and White planned to tell more well-known narratives of the suffrage movement in Newfoundland. However, in the process of researching the show, they became fascinated by women who felt disconnected from the suffrage movement.
“We decided we would rather tell the stories of the women who were kind of on the sidelines or the women who felt that getting the right to vote was not going to change their lives in the slightest, of course part of the story shows that yes it was going to change their lives remarkably…” Lawrence said.
The characters in Other Women Walk are fictionalized versions of historical figures, Lawrence has changed some of their names and some are composites of a couple different women. The monologues she has written for these characters are funny and raw, they feel like real people and their struggles are relatable. For anyone living in St. John’s, Other Women Walk is a unique opportunity to be immersed in the history that surrounds us and often gets overlooked.
Other Women Walk will be performed in Bannerman Park twice daily, Monday-Friday from July 23rd– August 10th. Tickets will be available for purchase on location at the beginning of the tour.