‘Asquith’s Visit to Chester’ A monologue by Katie Prescott

The Rows in 1912

MARY PHILLIPS STANDS IN THE NORTHGATE ROWS:

“Deeds, not words.”  That’s what Mrs Pankhurst says.  It’s no good just talking – politely requesting, as befits a lady.  That will not achieve what we want – what we deserve.  What is our right. 

And this is my deed.  Here in the city of Chester.  From my vantage point on the Rows, I can see the crowds gathering at the Town Hall, eager to catch even a fleeting glimpse of Mr Asquith.   I’ll be doing a darn sight more than catching a glimpse, I can tell you.  

If only I can do it.  

Come on, Mary.  You can do this.  

The actor as a suffragette pointing down the Rows
Katie Prescott

You’ve suffered before – been imprisoned before and half-starved yourself to death before.  Think back, Mary.  Think back to that glorious day.  Leaving prison after three whole months – the longest sentence served so far – to be greeted by the wonderful Mrs Drummond herself!  Even though I was near to fainting with hunger, the cheers of my magnificent sisters, the familiar notes of the bagpipes and the feel of that medal being pinned to my chest… such absolute pride.  I felt like I was being lifted up on their very shoulders and applauded by the gods.  

Deeds, not words.  Be courageous, Mary, like your sisters before you!  Courage calls to courage everywhere.  This is your deed.  And God knows we need to act.  Imagine a world where we are equal to men – where we can stand together.  That long-held dream will get me through.

Oh, but the fear and the dread.  Fear takes his icy, powerful hand and punches my stomach with a brutal force.  Fear of how those hands will grasp me after I’ve done it; fear of the cold, repulsive spittle which will land on my face; fear of the names that will come from their ugly, hating mouths before I land back in prison.  Have I the strength?  Have I the courage?  Have I the passion?

Mrs Pankhurst says we must all play our part and we must all make sacrifices.  

But for how much longer?  Sometimes it is so hard to believe that things will change and that the vote will finally be ours.

And is it enough?  My little deed?  How will throwing flour at the Prime Minister’s car help us win our goal?  So what?  When will things change for us?

And yet.

Deeds not words.

Courage calls to courage everywhere.

The car approaches.

I am ready.SHE PICKS UP HER BAG OF FLOUR AND RUNS DOWN THE STEPS.