We chatted to Kirstie about starring in the UK tour of Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World.

Hi Kirstie – could you explain what Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World is about? Hi! I’m so happy to be talking about our wonderful show and why you shouldn’t wait a
second to purchase a ticket! Our show is based on the award -winning picture book “Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World’ by Suffragette descendant Kate Pankhurst . Our show follows the journey of 11-year-old Jade, who gets left behind on a school trip and feels forgotten. She comes across a section of the museum that is currently closed off and out of bounds called ‘The Gallery of Greatness!’ and decides to take a look. Throughout the show Jade meets various iconic women through history such as Getrude Ederle, Frida Kahlo, Emmeline Pankhurst, Rosa Parks and many more. These inspiring women teach Jade self-belief, self- worth, control, choices and guide her to be proud of who she is and how to make her mark on the world. The show is full of catchy original pop songs written by Miranda Cooper (who has written songs for many artists including the Sugababes and Girls Aloud) that will have you singing as you leave the theatre. All in all, you will be left feeling empowered and inspired by our show.

What did you think of the show when you first read it? I was involved with the very first workshop and I couldn’t believe how much I was learning when reading the script. The more I read, the more the show came to life in my imagination, and I felt excited to tell these stories and teach others. I enjoyed the beautiful balance of comedy and heart-warming moments that feel so important for children of today. If only we’d had something like this when I was young.

Could you tell me about the characters you play? I play three different women in our show. ‘Emmeline Pankhurst’ who sings the catchy pop song ‘Deeds Not Words’. We are actually performing this number on Blue Peter, on Friday 15th April at 5pm. Be sure not to miss it! She encourages Jade not to run away from her problems and to ‘Face them, head on.’ To stand up for the things that matter to her and to have a voice. Emmeline was a true leader who went above and beyond to gain the right for women to vote. She brings strength and power to the stage with elements of hip hop dancing and rapping, a real modern twist. I also play ‘Agent Fifi’ who was hired by the British authorities to assess and test other spies to see if they were up to the job. If they ‘spilled the beans’ Agent Fifi would have them fired as clearly they weren’t up to the challenge. She is sassy and clever and takes Jade on a history lesson, whilst also revealing some secrets of her own! Last but not least, I play ‘Mrs Johnson’, Jade’s teacher, who right from the top of the show is of course looking for Jade, in our punchy song ‘Quiet children!’. Flustered and panicking she finds Jade at the very end of our play, but is greeted by a very different child who teaches her a few lessons instead.

How has it been working on the show so far? It is a joy to bring these prominent women to life every evening and have such a huge influence on our audience and each other. We cover such important topics and it’s a rollercoaster of a ride when doing the show. You feel the dedication and passion between each other on stage and it’s wonderful to be able to play multiple characters.

How has the show been going down with audiences so far? Our audiences have been wonderful from the get go. They are engaged and willing to learn,
laugh and be moved. There are plenty of moments for the audience to be involved and they spontaneously find themselves on their feet. It has been especially wonderful to play Emmeline Pankhurst in her birth place, Salford (Manchester) where audiences are clearly aware and proud of the fact! We are enjoying a wonderful reception from our audiences, people from all walks of life are embracing our show. I look forward to the rest of our tour around the UK through spring into summer.

What have you enjoyed the most about being part of this production? Learning about these historical women and being inspired by their strength, words and deeds in modern day life, and sharing these influences with others. It’s been wonderful to have a voice in this all-female production and experience the encouragement and support for each other.

By Emma Clarendon

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World is playing at the Rose Theatre in Kingston from the 12th to the 16th April, before continuing to tour across the UK.