A ONE-woman show based on the life of the 'crippled suffragette' May Billinghurst comes to West Wiltshire this month.

May is being performed at Trowbridge Arts on Thursday, February 15 and will be taken to Devizes Library on February 19 and Malmesbury Library on February 26.

Celebrating 100 years since women got the vote, Wyldwood Arts’ one-woman show is based on the life of disabled, bisexual, suffragette May Billinghurst, with special thanks to Town Hall Arts, Trowbridge and Davinci Mobility.

Written and performed by emerging artist Phoebe Kemp, a bisexual disabled woman herself, it tells the story of a key player in the suffragette movement.

Directed by Hannah Treadway, who is also disabled, the play offers a retrospective look at May’s life whilst forcing the audience to look at how far we’ve really come in the fight for equality.

The project celebrates the life of a disabled woman whose role in the suffragette movement was closely associated with Emily Pankhurst but whose legacy is unheard.

Through the development of a performance as well as accompanying workshops and community engagement, Wyldwood Arts aims to educate and honour May Billinghurst - providing a platform for her story as well as highlighting the lives of other disabled women in history.

In 2016, there was a short research and development grant for this project, funded by Arts Council England. The script was developed and Wiltshire Creative and Town Hall Arts, Trowbridge, supported Phoebe.

Jo Newman, Associate Director, Wiltshire Creative, said: “Our experience of working with Phoebe was great, there is much to be admired in her writing and performance.”

Phoebe has conducted in-depth research into the historical aspects of the story of May Billinghurst, ensuring its accuracy and likeness to the original person. She was shocked to discover that there are very few historical documents that relate to people with disabilities.

“It's as if they (disabled people) have been removed from history. I wanted to write something about a real-life disabled person – statistically, there had to be more disabled people but there are no records.

“May was unique and privileged in the disabled community and she used her status to help others but she has mostly been forgotten. I wanted to celebrate her life and story.”

May played a key role in the women's rights movement and campaigned on a tricycle called a 'Cranky Franky'. The company have been fortunate enough to borrow an original replica from British Wheelchair Athlete, Sarah Piercy. They are also commissioning a modern replica which will be easier for Phoebe to use over a long touring period.

Through the performances and accompanying workshops, the project aims are to inspire, educate and value the role of disabled women, increasing people’s awareness and empowering audiences to understand how important one voice can be.

Producer, Rachel Adams said: “We hope ‘May’ will spark crucial conversations in communities around equality, changing the way people see the past to reimagine the future of disability. We’re delighted to be producing this play with Phoebe, she’s hugely talented and a role model on so many levels.”

‘May’ is hugely relevant today in a society where disabled and LGBTQI voices are still desperate to be heard. It asks the question, how far have we really come in 100 years?

The touring schedule is:

• 15th February at 7.30pm - Trowbridge Arts https://tinyurl.com/ya8yal7u

• 16th February at 6.30pm - Salisbury Playhouse (part of Theatre Fest) https://tinyurl.com/ycheexo6

• 19th February at 7.30pm - Devizes Library (tickets on door + front desk)https://tinyurl.com/y7wt6w67

• 26th February at 6pm - Malmesbury Library (tickets on door + front desk) https://tinyurl.com/yby8cdzo

• 28th February at 8pm - Rondo Theatre, Bath https://tinyurl.com/ycnskpsf

More dates to follow. Please contact Rachel at Wyldwood Arts on 07877 581740 on about future bookings.