That Daring Australian Girl (4 stars)

That Daring Australian Girl

credit: Tom Kitney

Reclaiming a suffragist who matters

Rather in the style of a performance lecture - perhaps echoing those given by the heroine in the early twentieth century during her early career – Joanna Hartstone reveals the adventures of Muriel Matters, who was, by turns, a performer, a teacher, an activist for women's rights to vote, an aviator and always an ambitious adventurer who recognised the power of art to press a political purpose.

With projected descriptions of Matter's antics from contemporary sources framing each episode, Hartstone's chronological narrative demonstrates how one woman, playing many roles, can change history. Having developed rhetorical skills through presenting classic speeches, a meeting with Russian anarchist Kropotkin convinces matters to dedicate her life to social reform, and she rapidly becomes a prominent suffragist, chaining herself to a grill inside the Houses of Parliament, dangling from a dirigible to distribute leaflets and generally combining a sense of fun in her political mission.

Hartstone is effective as Matters, capturing a no-nonsense attitude and whispers of more romantic ideals, and this reclamation of a lost hero of progressive thought is a delightful primer for the roots of contemporary feminism, an inspiration from history.

Assembly George Square, 23, 25, 27 Aug, 11.45am, £13 (£12).

That Daring Australian Girl

  • 4 stars

Joanne Hartstone The women of England demand the vote! The remarkable true story of Muriel Matters: the South-Australian actress and elocutionist who became a leading figure of the UK's suffragette movement and the foremost woman orator in Britain. Written and performed by Joanne Hartstone (The Girl Who Jumped Off the…

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