Suffolk writer's based on Suffragettes to appear at Edinburgh Fringe 2019
PUBLISHED: 11:00 23 March 2019
Scotland beckons for playwright Suzanne Hawkes who will take her play, Courage Calls, to one of the UK’s best art festivals.
It’s been more than 20 years since Suzanne Hawkes first put pen to paper and began to produce her first plays.
In 2006 she turned professional with her first commission, and she has been going strong ever since.
The topics she chooses, often exploring an historical theme or notable personality, are diverse – from the abolition of the slave trade, to Thomas Wolsey, from cartoonist Carl Giles to the writer George Orwell, from the contemporary refugee crisis to the characters of Charles Dickens – her prolific pen has written about them all.
With a strong stable of actors, Suzanne has built up a following and an audience and tours her work across the region, often using venues connected to the story she is telling.
Today, the award winning playwright is turning her attention to north of the border as she prepares to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for the first time. Suzanne, who is based in Felixstowe, said: “I am so excited. This is the culmination of many years of dreaming. I’ve always wanted to take a production to the Edinburgh Fringe and now it is finally happening. After all these years I think it’s about time.”
Suzanne’s production company – Black and White Productions – will perform Courage Calls to Courage at the festival in August in a venue on the sought after Royal Mile.
She said: “Courage Calls to Courage is a drama with music that explores the lives and campaigns of suffragist Millicent Fawcett and suffragette Emmaline Pankhurst. These two women changed the face of British democracy, although their rivalry threatened to scupper the wheel Vote for Women movement. The play looks at how they learnt to work together in order to achieve their aims.”
The play contains original songs and is expected to be peppered with Suzanne’s signature pathos and humour.
She said: “My aim is to tell the story of these remarkable women, to pay tribute to their achievements and to look deeper into their characters. I really admire them for the sacrifices they made and I think their story needs to be told.”
Suzanne is also known for her annual drama cabaret Harry’s Bar, which has just finished its 10th anniversary run in her home town of Felixstowe.
As well as Harry’s Bar, Suzanne produces usually three plays a year commissioned by a variety of organisations and institutions. Her skills as a playwright have also been honed by taking part in a mentoring scheme with the Royal Shakespeare Company in a recent production marking the 450th anniversary of the birth of Shakespeare. Her plays have a strong educational ethos.
She said: “I’ve loved writing since I was a young child, I love telling stories and entertaining audiences and passing on the research I do for each show. I really enjoy finding out about characters and people, especially those with a local connection and it is very rewarding when they are brought to life on stage.”
Suzanne will be taking a ten strong cast to Edinburgh and has secured a coveted performance space in a grade II listed Georgian building for the festival, which attracts thousands of visitors and theatre goers and theatre professionals each year.
Suzanne said: “Edinburgh is a chance to showcase our work to a wider audience and other professionals from the industry. It is a huge opportunity to tell the story of these two women, and to allow a snapshot of my work to new audiences. It is a logistic challenge and a challenge to perform in a new context, but I think we are ready.”
The play will also be performed at the 2 Sisters Arts Venue in Trimley St Mary and the New Wolsey studio in Ipswich during July in the run up to the festival. For more information visit www.blackandwhiteproductions.org.uk