Revolutionary women highlighted in new play

Revolutionary women highlighted in new play

A new play about the end of the First World War from the perspective of German women opened this week, after research shone a light on women’s participation in Revolutions that affected Germany, Hungary, Austria and Switzerland in 1918.

Women of Aktion, by writing and directing duo Bent Architect, opened in Leeds on 3 October, and will tour the UK and Germany until November.

Research for the play, funded by UK Research and Innovation’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), focuses on political participation of women in the revolution.

The project began with a collection of interviews with women from Kiel – a port town in northern Germany – recollecting their lives dating back to the war. The interviews discuss the Kiel Revolution of 1918. Also known as the Kiel mutiny, the revolution is known as a revolt by sailors of the German High Seas Fleet on 3 November 1918. The revolt triggered the German revolution which was to result in the fall of the monarchy within a few days. It ultimately led to the end of the German Empire, and end of the First World War.

The story is traditionally told from a male perspective, but after visiting Kiel, stories from more than 200 revolutionary women who were active in Germany during the war were uncovered.

“I have a long-standing interest in writing women back into history as historical agents, showing that they had a major role in shaping events, even where they met with resistance, and where the measurable effects of their efforts were slow and modest,” says University of Leeds' Professor Ingrid Sharp, Principal Investigator on the project along with Dr Corinne Painter. “Women’s political participation, achieved against huge difficulties, is often downplayed, overlooked and misinterpreted – and above all depoliticized.”

The project aims to write real revolutionary women into the historical accounts, public knowledge and commemorative activities surrounding the centenary of the end of the war in November 2018 in both the UK and Germany.

Further information

Women of Aktion opened at Stage@Leeds on Wednesday 3 October, and will tour to Essex, Yorkshire, Manchester, Kiel, Wolverhampton and Kent until 17 November, For details and tickets, visit Bent Architect.co.uk

The Arts and Humanities Research Council funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects from history and archaeology to philosophy and languages. It is one of the nine organisations that makes up UK Research and Innovation.