In a week where Hillary Clinton shattered the ultimate glass ceiling for women in America, it was fitting last night the Auckland Theatre Company launched its latest offering, That Bloody Woman, a fantastic punk rock opera about Kate Sheppard, our most famous suffragette.
The show was a run-away hit at the 2015 Christchurch Festival and is a must-see.
Singer and actress Esther Stephens stars as Sheppard as she successfully campaigns to win the vote for women. Supporting Stephens’ amazing vocals is no easy task, but a young member of Kiwi thespian royalty Phoebe Hurst, niece of Michael, is doing it with strength and style.
She grew up in the South Island and does not like to make a fuss about her famous uncle.
Hurst is relishing spreading the message and plays several characters, including US women’s temperance delegate Mary Leavitt, who inspired Sheppard, and Ada Wells, who was one of Sheppard’s closest friends. In this role, Hurst sings an incredible solo about domestic violence called Quarter Acre dream. It is a showstopper.
“I can’t speak on behalf of any woman who has experienced sexual, domestic, physical or emotional violence, but I can tell the story of this particular woman’s experience,” she told Spy.
“What I want people to take away from the show is Kate’s message of fighting for equality among the sexes.
“I hope people who come along are moved and also have a good time.”
Hurst believes Helen Clark would be today’s modern-day Sheppard or Leavitt.
“Helen Clark is a person about people.
“Another would be Malala Yousafzai — an incredibly brave, amazingly well-spoken wonderful woman who is an advocate for young Pakistani women being able to have access to education, which also aligns with Kate Sheppard’s work.”
Hurst is no shrinking violet, she is also an Alt-Pop musician with the stage name Hunter.