A Play By
BROADSVIEW IS A PLAY FOR FOUR ACTORS, THREE FEMALE
AND ONE MALE. IT IS DESIGNED AS A PORTABLE SHOW. WHAT
FOLLOWS IS A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SETTING FOR THE
ORIGINAL PRODUCTION BY CORE THEATRE COMPANY IN ADELAIDE IN
1981. BROADSVIEW HAD A SEASON AT THE SHERIDAN THEATRE,
NORTH ADELAIDE, A TOUR OF METROPOLITAN SCHOOLS AND A TOUR
THE IRON TRIANGLE REGION OF
THE AUDIENCE ENTERED AN EMPTY SPACE AND THE ACTORS BUILT A
'PERFORMANCE SPACE' FROM THIS EMPTY SPACE IN THE SHORTEST
POSSIBLE TIME. IN PRACTICE WE GOT THE TIME DOWN TO TWO AND A
HALF MINUTES. THREE OF THE FOUR ACTORS ARRIVED APPARENTLY
LATE. THE FOUR ACTORS AND THE STAGE MANAGER SET ABOUT
BUILDING THE SET WHICH CONSISTED OF TWO 8 FOOT BY FOUR FOOT
FLATS (WHITE) WITH TWO FOOT HESSIAN EXTENSIONS ON EACH SIDE
(BLACK). EACH FLAT HAD A WINDOW AND THE WINDOWS WERE NEXT TO
EACH OTHER. THERE WERE TWO RED LADDERS EITHER SIDE WHICH HAD
BUILDER'S PLANKS BETWEEN THEM. THE BUILDER'S PLANKS WERE
TOPPED BY A WIDER PLANK WHICH WAS ALSO RED. THESE WERE BOLTED
TO STEPS IN THE LADDER.
CUPHOOKS WERE FIXED TO THE UNDERSIDE OF THE PLANKS AND LADDER
STEPS AND A GREAT VARIETY OF PROPS WERE HUNG FROM THEM. A
WASHING LINE WAS STRUNG ACROSS THE TOP OF THE FLATS. FROM THIS
WERE HUNG ARTICLES OF FEMALE UNDERCLOTHING FROM DIFFERENT ERAS
INCLUDING SUSPENDER BELTS, BRASSIERES, SLIPS, STOCKINGS, ETC.
THERE WAS A LARGE, FREESTANDING BOOK EITHER SIDE OF THE ACTING AREA.
STAGE RIGHT-"HIDDEN HERSTORY": STAGE LEFT "GREAT MEN MAKE HISTORY".
MUCH USE WAS MADE OF THESE BOOKS.
A CHANGEABLE DATE CALENDAR WAS MOUNTED ON THE FLATS.
FOR CONVENIENCE SAKE THE ACTORS ARE NUMBERED AS
ALL PLAY MULTI-ROLES. AS WILL BECOME OBVIOUS, 1:2:& 4
ARE FEMALES AND 3 IS MALE.
THE AUDIENCE ENTERS AN EMPTY SPACE.
4 ENTERS SWEEPING THE FLOOR. SHE IS DRESSED IN THE
CLOTHING OF A 19TH CENTURY WORKING WOMAN. SHE
STOPS AND LOOKS AT AUDIENCE.
I dunno. They're always late. Hang on a bit.
SHE MOVES TOWARDS THE DOOR. SOUNDS OF ARRIVAL FROM OFF.
THE OTHER ACTORS ENTER CARRYING FLATS ETC. THEY CONVERSE
WITH EACH OTHER AND WITH THE AUDIENCE AS THEY BRING THE SET
IN FROM OFFSTAGE. LINES ARE A GUIDE ONLY AS MANY CLEVER AD-LIBS
CAN DEVELOP WITH THE AUDIENCE.
Well if you'd have the van serviced when you're supposed to, we wouldn't break down.
And if we had a decent level of arts funding in this state we could afford to have it serviced.
Just hurry up will you?
Always running late. I don't know.
(to audience) Just talk among yourselves, will you? We won't be long.
4 CONTINUES TO SWEEP IN THE AUDIENCE, ASKING PEOPLE
TO LIFT THEIR LEGS OR STAND UP. SHE PASSES THE BROOM
SO AUDIENCE MEMBERS CAN HELP HER OUT IN THE DIFFICULT
THE OTHER ACTORS AD-LIB AS THEY SET UP. THE FLATS WITH
THEIR WINDOWS ARE SET, THEN THE LADDERS EITHER SIDE OF
THE FLATS WITH THE BUILDERS PLANKS BOLTED IN. THE
WASHING LINE IS STRUNG ACROSS THE FRONT OF THE FLATS. 3
ATTEMPTS TO HANG OUT THE WASHING AND IS RELIEVED OF THE
TASK BY 1.
Honestly, did your mother teach you to hang washing like that?
My mother didn't teach me to hang washing.
Get out of the way.
WHILE THIS IS GOING ON, THE CALENDAR IS MOUNTED
INTO ITS BRACKET ON THE TOP OF THE FLATS AND
THE DATE TURNED TO THE PRESENT YEAR. THE PROPS
AND PIECES OF COSTUME ARE HUNG ON THE CUPHOOKS
UNDER THE BUILDERS' PLANKS AND THE RUNGS OF THE
1 & 2 RETIRE BEHIND THE FLATS, WHILE 4 CONTINUES IN THE AUDIENCE WITH HER BROOM.
I don't know, this place is always filthy. Look at the state of this aisle. And this floor.
Disgraceful! Lift your feet will you love? Work yourself to death and they pay you a
A LOUD ARGUMENT BEGINS FROM BEHIND THE FLATS.
4 PAUSES IN HER WORK TO LISTEN.
We've had this argument before.
I am not going to do it.
The play is about women.
Exactly! And I know more about women than you do.
How can you know more about women than us?
I have to live with you, don't I?
And we have to live with you.
I'm not doing it your way and that's final.
You'll do it our way or else.
That's it. I'm not going on.
A WINDOW IN THE FLATS OPENS. 1 AND 2 APPEAR STRANGLING 3.
THE WINDOW CLOSES. 1 AND 2 ENTER EITHER SIDE.. THEY DON
HATS AND PIECES OF COSTUME AS THEY ENTER.
Well Mrs. Scott, are we in agreement?
Call me Rose, Mrs. Spence. We are in agreement indeed.
THEY MEET CENTRE STAGE AND SHAKE HANDS. TURN AND MOVE
TO THE LADDERS EITHER SIDE AND CLIMB THEM AND SIT ON TOP
OF EACH LADDER DRINKING TEA
We shall force Premier Kingston to concede women the vote in South Australia this
1 CHANGES THE CALENDAR TO 1894.
Call me Catherine, Rose. Never fear, once we get the vote here in
South Australia it will be no time at all before other colonies follow suit.
(who has continued with her sweeping) Sunday's me only day for housework
. I work in a factory fifty six hours a week.
Once women get the vote, we will be in a position to change the world.
I wouldn't be too sure of that, Rose.
Whatever do you mean, Catherine?
I mean that the vote is only one very small step along the road to full equality for women.
Men at the factory I work at get paid more than twice as much as me.
Women are morally superior to men. Our influence for good shall be reflected through the
Perhaps, Rose, but I like to look at things in a wider context.
Me husband should help with the housework, but he doesn't.
Whatever reasons we see for wanting the vote, Catherine, we agree that we
should have it?
Definitely Rose! Why should half the population be denied the right and privilege
Working women are fighting for the vote so we can get decent wages and conditions.
Women get paid less than men, so the bosses hire us as cheap labour. And they make
sure some jobs are only done by women.
Have you a plan of action, Catherine?
I have the ear of Premier Kingston and of other politicians, Rose.
SHE PICKS UPA LARGE EAR AND SHOWS IT TO THE AUDIENCE.
We shall be responsible for women getting the vote in this country.
1 & 2
We shall make history.
THEY TOAST EACH OTHER WITH THEIR TEA CUPS. THEY EXIT.
We shall make history.
I love a scruffy husband
A tub of filthy sheets
And making babies bottles
And sterilizing teats
I pick up filthy underwear
His dirty socks and all
I wash pooey babies' bottoms
It drives me up the wall.
AN ARGUMENT HAS ONCE AGAIN STARTED BEHIND THE FLATS.
They're at it again.
I am not going to do it. I'm not.
You are! get on out there.
2 DRAGS 3 ON BY THE EAR. THEY RECOVER THEMSELVES AS
THEY COME IN SIGHT OF THE AUDIENCE.
Well, Catherine, what can I do for you?
Seeing as you ask, Mr. Kingston, get all women in South Australia the vote.
Even the Aborigines?
Why should I?
Because white women are half the population.
So we have as much right as men to elect politicians.
Women are not the only people excluded from voting, Catherine.
No, there's also murderers, lunatics, traitors....Are you aware, Mr. Premier,
of women's attitudes to the vote?
Of course I'm aware...What are they?
1 & 4 APPEAR IN THE WINDOWS AS SUFFRAGETTES
Women demand the vote as a means of strengthening the family unit.
Women demand the vote so we can get a better deal in the home and the workplace.
Strong stuff, Catherine. Have you heard what my parliamentary colleagues are saying?
1 & 4 APPEAR IN WINDOWS AS MALE POLITICIANS. BOTH ARE ASLEEP.
KINGSTON WAKENS THEM.
Votes for women? How can we hand over the destiny of this country to the most unthinking portion
Sheilas votun? What a lot of bull.
See what I mean Catherine? Trying to get women the vote in South Australia in 1894
would be political suicide.
You could go down in history as the second leader to advocate votes for women. Besides,
this could work to your political advantage.
Tell me more, Catherine.
You could break the Country Party's power by giving women the vote. There are far
more women in city than country electorates. What do you say, Mr. Premier.
Catherine, after your eloquent appeal, how could I refuse?
3 RINGS A HAND BELL. ALL ACTORS BECOME MALE POLITICIANS
SITTING ON LADDERS AND PLANKS. ALL ARE ASLEEP. THEY WAKE UP TO SPEAK.
Mr. Speaker, I contend that it is right and proper that the vote be granted to sheilas...
Bits of fluff... Mr. Speaker, I speak for the Country Party and I say that this is a plot
by the premier and his cohorts to break the power of my party. Granting the vote to bits of fluff...
Will only result in them voting the same way as their husbands. Blind Freddy can
see that there are far more women in city than in country electorates. My party shall
be disadvantaged if we grant the vote to bits of fluff...
Broads! Mr. Speaker, as a private member of strong religious views, I say that the
church in 1894 is appalled at the idea of votes for broads....
Bits of fluff.
A woman's place is in the home and nowhere else.
Mr. Speaker, I speak for those of us more inclined to weigh scientific matters.
It is a fact that the female head is smaller than the male head. Therefore it follows
Bits of fluff?
Have smaller brains and so cannot think clearly. Granting the vote to… members
of the opposite sex will result in chaos.
CHAOS ENSUES AS THE MEMBERS INTERJECT.
Who'll mind the children while they vote?
Mr Speaker, the idea is nonsense.
Next thing they'll want to sit in parliament. Ha ha ha
ALL FALL ASLEEP EXCEPT 2, WHO REMOVES HER POLITICIANS
HAT AND ADDRESSES THE AUDIENCE……
Will the suffragettes prevail? Well we all know they did, don't we?
The play continues to examine issues women have faced in
It's a funny, bouncy agit-prop piece. Easy to produce and fun to tour.
Drop me a line and tell me you wish to produce it.