Grace Surman and Catherine Butterworth
“Me and this chick I know… we want to do something. We wrote a play about it, we want to speak up. It’s not really a play, it’s more of a scene about the war. Makes fun of the television news, how we’re all being lied to. We built a screen out of, y’know, a sheet.”
On the night of 2nd April 1911, thousands of women and male supporters resisted being counted in protest at the government’s refusal to grant women a vote. Some women evaded census enumerators by hiding out away from home: one group roller-skated all night at Aldwych rink London, some hid in caves in Wales and Emily Wilding Davison spent the night in a broom cupboard in the Houses of Parliament.
For the Compass Festival of Live Art, the artists recreated (after a fashion) the diversions, disappearances and relocations that took place on the night of 2nd April 1911. Where possible they maintained a commitment to approximating original settings, scale, numbers, timings and activity, though there was, of course, some compromise due to personnel and budget.
They have been:
RESEARCHING small acts of abandonment.
ABANDONING any sense of social engagement.
CALCULATING the relationship between our personal pain and the profundity of our thoughts.
ACTING in a live art context.
About the Artist
Grace Surman’s work consistently interrogates performance and identity, playing with subtleties of appearance and persona in order to question perceived identity. She places importance on the recognition of how others see us and how we see ourselves, and a fascination rests in the liminal territory between the visible and invisible in our lives, informed by our cultural landscapes.
This project is “a duet”, in which the artist will be joined by another performer, Catherine Butterworth.
This piece is an extension of the collaboration between Surman and Butterworth; one that began as artist and curator, then moved on to artist and dramaturg and is now artist and collaborator.
On the night of 2nd April 1911 thousands of women and male supporters resisted being counted in protest at the government’s refusal to grant women a vote. Some women evaded census enumerators by hiding out away from home: one group roller- skated all night (at Aldwych rink London), some hid in caves (Wales) and Emily Wilding Davison spent the night in a broom cupboard in the Houses of Parliament. Taking this as a starting point, the artists will re-create (after a fashion) the diversions, disappearances and relocations which took place that night.
Grace has been a long time favourite pursuing her own lines of enquiry in a completely idiosyncratic and delightful way. I love her intelligence, her presence on stage as if butter wouldn’t melt, and her forensic wit and savagery. There’s always great music too. This new collaboration with Catherine Butterworth is so welcome; make sure you make a space in your day for this. Annie Lloyd