Wendy Lill, a Canadian screenwriter, radio dramatist, and playwright is known for her stage plays. In fact, her plays have been shown in theatres all over Canada and abroad, including Germany, Scotland, and Denmark. Many of her plays center on the oppressed and the powerful. They also explore issues, such as abuse and racism, sexual abuse of children, and struggles of women for their rights. Some of her plays were even nominated for the Governor General’s Awards.
One of her plays, Fighting Days, has garnered critical acclaims. After all, it is not often that you get the chance to watch a historical play that combines drama with political themes. It is even rarer to see a play that has strong and articulate female characters. The actresses are fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to delve into the minds and hearts of women who have had the experience to be in the midst of political struggles.
Fighting Days tells about the stories of Nellie McClung, a politician and suffragist; Lillian Beynon Thomas, a journalist and author; and Francis Beynon, the editor of the Grain Growers’ Guide and heroine of Fighting Days. The play centers on women’s suffrage in Manitoba. However, instead of concentrating on the struggles to win a vote, it views the suffrage movement from another angle.
Fighting Days also shows the elimination of a “common front” the moment its goal has been reached. This front started during women’s voting, but declined during the confrontation with the economic and political realities of war and imperialism. It can be said that the play’s greatest triumph is the balance between humanity and politics – how it embodied the beliefs of the playwright, as well as how her play’s characters embodied such beliefs.
One of the play’s main characters, Nellie McClung, was described as a woman who won the women’s vote in Manitoba single-handedly. She was portrayed as a powerful orator, a committed suffragist, a British chauvinist, and an elitist. She was also shown to be an architect of the foreign-born women’s disenfranchisement during World War I.
Lillian Beynon Thomas was shown to be a woman trapped between her political beliefs and friends and family. She was said to sought conciliation and compromise despite knowing their differences. She also wanted to “hold the troops together” even though she knew that they will eventually be torn apart.
Then, there is Francis Beynon, the play’s female lead. She was the sole woman who did not view the suffrage campaign as an isolated political objective. For her, women’s suffrage was just a single aspect of the system of beliefs that made her denounce racism, imperialism, and exploitation of people. At the end of the play, she loses everything due to her beliefs – her allies, friends, livelihood, and readership support.
Lill was credited for her depiction of human motives in women. The true allegiance of the audience was given to Francis. However, their sympathy was for Nellie. During the conflict’s height, Nellie begged …