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Coming home for a local theatre company

The theatre company staging a play at the St George’s Guildhall in Lynn on Wednesday are in a sense coming home.

Lynx Theatre and Poetry are based in Stoke Ferry, but this will be the first time they have ever performed in West Norfolk.

The play they are putting on is Sylvia, which tells the story of the life of Sylvia Pankhurst, artist and suffragette.

The one-woman play is written and performed by Jacqueline Mulhallen under the directorship of her partner William Alderson.

The play is being performed in support of the Shakespeare Guildhall Trust.

Jacqueline Mulhallen as Sylvia Pankhurst
Jacqueline Mulhallen as Sylvia Pankhurst

Mr Alderson said: “We have never performed in Norfolk before, ironically, but it came about because of the Shakespeare Guildhall Trust meeting about the future of the building.

“We went along and they said they were looking for people to use the Guildhall so we offered it to them as a project to put on and it has proved to be a good idea.”

Mr Alderson said that Lynx had originally been founded in the 1980s in East London. The company had been dormant for 25 years but, with the couple now living in Stoke Ferry, was revived in 2015.

Performances for this play and others produced by Lynx are usually at non-theatrical venues, such as schools, colleges, community centres, workplaces or indeed anywhere an audience can gather, so Mr Alderson said that working at the Guildhall was a treat.

He said: “We found that when we revived the theatre company in 2015 that many of the venues that we used to play at around the country, the arts centre and so on, did not exist, they had totally disappeared.

“We found the audience was there but the venues were just not there any more.”

Sylvia Pankhurst came from a family of suffragettes.

Her mother was Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). Her sister was Christabel.

But Sylvia was far more socialist in her outlook than her mother and sister and also took a pacifist line over the First World War, whereas the WSPU called a truce in the fight for women’s votes after the conflict broke out.

The show is staged with the aid of 250 digital slides and looks very much at her artistic talent.

Four of her paintings are at the Tate.

The play, which is aimed at a 13-plus age group, is being performed twice.

It will be staged once at a schools performance in the afternoon, which is sold out, and then later to the general public at 7.30pm.

The performances will be followed by an audience discussion led by Jacqueline.

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