#Emilymatters – Historic Event in Parliament – Heartfelt Thanks


A special Parliamentary performance and debate around the life of Emily Wilding Davison

and the impact of her legacy on feminism today.


Thanks to our fantastic #Emilymatters supporters!


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A huge thank you to everyone who got involved in this special Parliamentary performance & debate,
from the cast, director & writer of ‘To Freedom’s Cause’. Cheers!
Photo: Rachel Cochrane, 2014


On Thursday 13th February 2014, an historic event took place in the Houses of Parliament when To Freedom’s Cause‘, my play about Emily Davison was performed to a packed audience as part of a special event in support of Emily Thornberry MP‘s Emily Davison Statue in Parliament Campaign.

The Jubilee Room is situated within the original buildings of the Houses of Parliament and is (a stone’s throw away) from St Mary Undercroft, where Emily Davison hid in a cupboard during the 1911 Census, so that she could claim Parliament as her place of residence that night. She would have walked through Westminster Hall as we did.

There is a virtual treasure trove of material, so more content will be uploaded over the coming days and weeks.

For my blog on the event itself, please click here.

We were overwhelmed by the fantastic response to the event. Everyone in the room was there because they are making a difference to society today. They are part of Emily Davison’s living legacy. It would have been great to have invited many more people, but it was also important that the event took place in the same building where Emily made some of her most inventive protests.


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#Emilymatters: Kay Renner, Katie Russell, Louise Gregory, Sabina Arthur & Karen Ingala Smith
Photo: Rachel Cochrane, 2014


A statue of Emily will make a strong statement, but it is people who will effect positive change and so it was a privilege to be able to chat with so many inspiring folk afterwards over a glass or two.

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Emily’s continued relevance was taken up both online and in the room. It was fantastic that #Emilymatters went viral.


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The audience responded to the simple staging of To Freedom’s Cause and seeing Emily through the eyes of others, most especially her mother. This was a very personal performance and after the briefest of get ins the cast launched into the performance with passion.


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Another key element in the play is Emily’s strong ties with the North East. It was therefore, fantastic that Newcastle Central MP, Chi Onwurah added her support to the campaign and was a panelist during the debate. Since the play’s performance in Wensleydale back in 2009, women in particular, have responded to the strong mother-daughter bond, which is at the heart of the play.


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Thanks for this very special event must first go to Emily Thornberry MP and her team who ensured that we were able to bring Emily Wilding Davison back to Parliament!

It is incredibly rare for a play to be performed in the Houses of Parliament and so without their vision and support, this special evening would not have taken place. Tom Spencer worked tirelessly to make sure the evening was a success.


Emily Thornberry MP on why the Emily Davison Statue in Parliament Campaign matters:
“Politics is about individual people, as much as collective action.”
Photo: Brian Astbury, 2014

The petition went on to get 1,343 signatures and has now closed. There will be a memorial to Women’s Suffrage in Parliament, so please look out for updates from Parliament about this.


Jane Garvey: “I know my colleagues at Woman’s Hour are backing the campaign and are glad that
I’m here tonight.”
Photo: Brian Astbury, 2104

Thanks must also go to Jane Garvey and Dr Helen Pankhurst, both of whom added their support very early on in the process. Their interest and encouragement was crucial to keeping up the momentum, as the project had to jump through several Parliamentary administrative hoops!


Dr Helen Pankhurst on intersectionality: “I don’t think we have to be on the same page on everything
… but we can support each other across our differences.”
Photo: Brian Astbury, 2014

#Emilymatters continues to support the great work that Care International do and will again join Dr Helen Pankhurst and her daughter Laura at the 2015 Walk in Her Shoes campaign. It would be great to see you there!

For more information, click here.


Yas Necati on the teaching of women’s history in schools: “Feminism is always talked about something
that was, rather than something that is and I think that’s a real shame.”
Photo: Brian Astbury, 2014

Panelist Yas Necati has written extensively on why Emily Davison’s legacy matters today, including her excellent guest blog on this website.


Chi Onwurah MP: “The equality of opportunity is for everyone.”
Photo: Brian Astbury, 2014

Emma Barnett and Chi Onwurah MP have both been very supportive of the event, so it was great to have their involvement as panelists. Clips from the debate will be made available on the website soon.

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Emma Barnett: “If you want feminism to seem relevant, it has to outline better what the issues are … because some people don’t know what’s left to fight.”
Photo: Kate Willoughby, 2014

Insightful reviews of the evening, please read articles by Radhika Sanghani, writer for The Telegraph’s Wonder Women and by feminist campaigner Charlie Tarrant


People power: Full house in the Jubilee Room, 13 February 2014
Photo: Matthew Ward, History Needs You, 2014

My Emily Wilding Davison play, To Freedom’s Cause, has been through an extensive period of research and development. Over the past 5 years it has been performed at a variety of venues.

In 2013, for example, an Arts Council England backed tour included village halls, the Georgian Theatre Royal, Newcastle’s Lit & Phil, the Tristan Bates Theatre in Covent Garden and HMP Downview.

This brand new interpretation of the play was created specifically for the Parliamentary performance. Director Brian Astbury cast a strong ensemble of actors who brought a fresh retelling of Emily Davison’s life as a campaigner for equality, in support of the Emily Davison Statue in Parliament campaign. Whilst Rhona Finch, the Musical Director, created an uplifting mix of traditional Northumbrian song and rousing suffragette anthems.

To Freedoms Cause

Cast members: Eleanor Dennison, Fiona Geddes, Darren Godbold, Kyra Williams and Kate Willoughby.

This fantastic team created a moving and insightful performance that the audience really responded to. For more information about the cast and creative team, please click here.

“To Freedom’s Cause should be seen by every woman and teenage girl. And by anybody who couldn’t be bothered to vote. Moving, stirring and passionate”.
Jane Garvey, Presenter, BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour

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‘To Freedom’s Cause’ by Kate Willoughby – historic performance in the House of Commons.
Cast: Kyra Williams, Fiona Geddes, Kate Willoughby, Eleanor Dennison, Darren Godbold.
Photo: Rachel Cochrane, 2014

Other key members of the team to thank are Evgenia Makeeva (Event Manager), Kirsty Murray (@2FCPlay designated Tweeter), Emily and Gabe from @MasonClarkMedia, who created impactful infographics and drove the social media campaign, Isla Salisbury, who also assisted with the social media and administration.

The performance of the play in Parliament could not have taken place without the fantastic support of Dame Judi DenchSheila HancockJudi Loadman, Joanna Lumley OBE FRGSMaxine PeakeEmma ThompsonDame Harriet Walter and Tom Willoughby.

In addition, to my blog about the event. Take a look at Charlie Tarrant‘s blog from weareunfinished.com.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all those people and organisations who have lent their support to the play over the past 5 years, many of whom continue to follow the play’s developments with interest.

Finally, a thank you list to all the fantastic supporters of this special Parliamentary production:

Emily Thornberry MP
Emma Barnett
Harry & Pip Bolton
Val Burgess
Emily Clark
Rachel Cochrane
Irene Cockroft
Dame Judi Dench
Frances Dredge
Jane Garvey
Louise Grainger
Louise Gregory
Sheila Hancock
Bev Joicey
William Jones
Judi Loadman
Joanna Lumley
Evgenia Makeeva
Gabe Mason
Andrew McKinnon
Muriel McClymont
Kirsty Murray
Yas Necati
Chi Onwurah MP
Dr Helen Pankhurst
Maxine Peake
Chris Purser
Indi Rambachan
Emma Reilly
Deborah Richards
Isla Salisbury
Tom Spencer
Emma Thompson
Dame Harriet Walter
Matthew Ward
Chris Wheatley
Tom Willoughby
Michelle Witton
Juan Zanbrana

@MasonClarkMedia | @HistoryNeedsYou | @listenupnorth | @WirelessPA

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#Emilymatters: Kate Willoughby with Tom Spencer, from Emily Thornberry MP’s team, who ensured
the evening was a great success.
Photo: Rachel Cochrane, 2014

#Emilymatters was proud to support the Emily Davison Statue in Parliament campaign. 

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#Emilymatters: ‘To Freedom’s Cause’ Creative team members Rhona Finch (Musical Director) & Brian Finch.
Photo: Kate Willoughby, 2014

Looking to the future, plans are being made for a 2018 community based project with To Freedom’s Cause at its heart. Please keep in touch and follow us @Emilymatters, to keep up to date with developments.


We passed our target of 1,000 signatures by opening up the event to social media, which is something that we continue to do as we encourage young women, in particular, to vote.

Emily Davison is one of our most important feminist icons. Her legacy continues through current campaigns such as No More Page 3 and the Everyday Sexism Project.


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#Emilymatters: Hope for the future – Kate Willoughby with upcoming feminist campaigner Yas Necati
Photo: Rachel Cochrane, 2014

You can also keep up to date with developments about the work of Kate Willoughby Productions, including the ongoing legacy of this play, by joining our mailing list or follow @katewilloughby8.

Kate Willoughby
Actor & Writer of To Freedom’s Cause


Emily Davison’s legacy is for life, not just for 2013. 

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