SACKVILLE, N.B. – When Francis Marion Beynon stepped off the train in the early 1900s in Winnipeg, she had no idea she would end up becoming the subject of Wendy Lill’s play ‘The Fighting Days.’
Francis was born in Ontario in 1884 but her family moved to Manitoba five years later to take up farming. She grew up in a very traditional and religious household, where the figure of her father loomed large and harsh. In 1909, however, she took the step to move to Winnipeg, two years after her father died. There, she slowly transformed from the nervous country girl to a major voice and force behind women acquiring the vote and worked alongside better known suffragist Nellie McClung.
‘The Fighting Days,’ by Wendy Lill, is a fascinating take on the life of this largely overlooked suffragist and political activist. With four cast members, the play introduces us to Francis, her sister Lily, Nellie McClung and the editor of the paper where Francis worked, George McNair. We encounter the struggles, determination, and desires each felt during those years as Francis developed her strongly held views about women and the First World War, and how she became the outspoken activist in Manitoba.
Moving through the early years of her life in Winnipeg, the play moves from scene to scene on a composite set depicting the office where Francis worked, her apartment and the places where many suffragette events took place. Mahalia Onichino will be taking the role of Francis, Fiona Brett will be her sister Lily, Vallie Stearns-Anderson plays Nellie McClung and Michael Gallant is editor George McNair.
‘The Fighting Days’ opens on Oct. 24 and runs until Oct. 28, in a new venue. Performers’ Theatre Company has a short-term lease on the former call centre and liquidation building on the corner of Fairfield and Queens Roads. Tickets will be available from Rob Lyon Graphics at 10 Weldon Street, 506-536-1904 beginning Oct. 3. For further information visit the theatre company’s website http://www.performerstheatre.com/ or their Facebook page.
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