My little girl was in her first ever Fringe show this weekend.
Asked by some dear actor-friends to send in a short video of myself talking about women I found inspiring, Maia stole the moment by coming in, mid-video and answering the question herself:
“Who’s inspiring? Who inspires you?” She points to herself. “You. You inspire you,” I said, impressed and confirming what I already believed about children being our best teachers.
“Actually, actually, you inspire me because you’re my Mummy,” she replies, wrapping her arms around me and placing her head close to mine. The crowd “ahs”. I well up. Seeing her little face, covered in Nutella projected on to the back wall of the stage, in front of all those people, filled me with pride.
I failed to hide tiny trickles of joy.
The sold-out show was entitled Her Story, revealing the true stories of some pretty extraordinary, though under-appreciated and unrecognised women throughout history. Boudica had her own song, as did Mary Anning, the palaeontologist famous for paradigm-shifting geological discoveries, but not eligible for membership of the Geological Society of London, because she was not a man. A common thread.
Written and performed at The Brighton Fringe by four young women with beautiful voices and a colourful selection of props and instruments, the show had me cracking up one minute and feeling sombre and almost tearful the next.
Their songs were clever, witty, politically on-point and more than anything, incredibly catchy.
You couldn’t help but love these women for what they’d achieved. With references to domestic violence, an absence of workers rights, and the silencing of women’s voices, it was the perfect blend of successful entertainment and necessary education. Feminism at its finest.
I wanted Maia to be there and take it all in. Tell her all about the patriarchy, and how she must always ask questions, challenge the system and educate herself on the women who came before her.
Courageous women who paved the way and helped us in the right direction, in many respects, from the right to vote, to the right to agency over our bodies, to feeling able to speak up about pay inequality. Or speak up about anything at all for that matter.
We have a long way to go, but it’s worth acknowledging the boldness and bravery of women who, for whatever reason, didn’t make the history books. That’s what this poignant and insightful show does. Acknowledges and celebrates those powerful individuals through the magic of song and good humour.
I’d encourage everyone to try and make it to the theatre, be it local or somewhere further afield. I’ve been both a performer and audience member at The Wokingham Theatre and in my biased opinion it’s always a polished and enjoyable night out. You will learn something, and leave with a heart and mind that little bit more open and curious.
If I learnt anything as a parent, watching this well-crafted show, it’s that we must remind our children they have a voice, no matter how small, and they must use it and speak up for what they believe in, for what is right.
Because it’ll be those children who grow up and change the world one day. One inspiration at a time.