WHY did it take so insufferably long for women to get the vote?

Marsden's travelling troupe, Mikron Theatre Company, are marking the 100th anniversary of women in Britain being given that right with the premiere of Revolting Women: Vashti Maclachlan’s new play about the Suffragette story, as seen through the eyes of the political activist and campaigner for women’s rights Sylvia Pankhust.

After rehearsals at Marsden Cricket Club, Mikron's national tour began on May 21 and will travel across Britain by road and river until October 20, stopping off at Scarcroft Allotments in York on Tuesday for a 7pm performance with a cast of Christopher Arkeston, Rosamund Hine, James McLean and Daisy Ann Fletcher under the direction of Jonny Kelly.

Maclachlan's play highlights how Manchester-born Sylvia Pankhurst fought for the vote alongside working women in London's East End in a story where Sylvia meets [the fictitious everywoman] Lettie and together they push on to Parliament to bend the ear of the Cabinet.

"Full of political satire, song and more suffrage societies than you can shake a stick at, Revolting Women unravels a contentious and momentous movement in history," says Vashti.

York Press:

Revolting Women director Jonny Kelly

"The play came out of my interest in Sylvia Pankhurst’s story but I discovered along the way a campaign full of militant deeds and words, yes, but also one full of friendship, wit and humour, ripe for representation on a Mikron stage."

Sylvia is the least well known of the Pankhurst campaigners, by comparison with her mother Emmeline and her elder sister Christabel. Sylvia was the second daughter of Richard Pankhurst, a Manchester lawyer and social reformer, and Emmeline, who became the major figure in the women’s suffrage movement, predominantly in tandem with Christabel, her favourite daughter.

Yet Sylvia made her mark too by combining working in East London for the Women’s Social and Political Union – founded in 1903 by Emmeline and Christabel – with training as an artist at the Royal College of Art in Kensington, London. She was imprisoned for the first of many times in 1906. In 1913, she founded the East London Federation of Suffragettes and launched a newspaper, the Dreadnought. She later wrote The Suffragette Movement (1931), one of the first and most lucid accounts of the struggle for the vote.

Jonny Kelly is directing a Mikron show for the first time, following in the footsteps of his fiancee Esther Grace Button in working for the company after she performed in Troupers and Till The Cows Come Home in 2014. "We met at East 15 Acting School, and I acted for a year after drama school before I decided to switch to directing," he recalls.

"Esther knew Mikron because she's from Marsden and every time we came up we'd meet up with Pete [producer Pete Toon] and Marianne [artistic director Marianne McNamara], so it's been an organic process to direct this show.

York Press:

James McLean, Daisy Ann Fletcher, Rosamund Hine and Christopher Arkeston in Revolting Women

"I've been directing for four years and in the past 12 months I've done seven production, and felt like I've had three heart attacks, but it's the type of career where you have to grab what chances you can. At one time, I was directing one show from ten in the morning to six o'clock, then another show from six at night to 10pm."

Jonny leapt at the invitation to direct Revolting Women. "I said yes, even before I knew exactly what the play would be about because I love Mikron's work, and when I learned it would be about suffrage, that peaked my interest as I like plays that tackle political and social issues," he says.

He was fascinated by Sylvia Pankhurst's story. "Everyone at school is taught about Emmeline, but the interesting thing is that Sylvia was so radical, so left wing, and she approached suffrage as a peaceful action rather taking the militant route that Emmeline and Christabel took," he says.

"But history has kind of forgotten her – I admit I was completely ignorant of her before this play – and there is only one blue plaque to her at South Woodford Tube station – my Tube stop – in East London, whereas there are loads to her mother and sister."

Revolting Women will do much more than a plaque can to tell Sylvia's tale anew.

Mikron Theatre Company presents Revolting Women at Scarcroft Allotments, York, Tuesday, June 5, 7pm. No tickets required; a cash collection will be taken after this outdoor show. Bring chairs, blankets and a picnic.

Revolting Women is touring nationally alongside Get Well Soon, York playwright Ged Cooper’s new play celebrating 70 years of the National Health Service. Catch it at Clements Hall, York, on Sunday, September 23 at 4pm.