Lizzy4

April 15, 2007

I don’t want fame
impossible to say and not sound false
but I never did and just as well,
I don’t expect
you’ll know too much about me now.
Doesn’t matter-
never wanted fame
fame was never what we
ever cared about. We wanted-
justice.

In the eyes of God all men are equal.
Ha – all men, not
all wo-men
and not jews
and not blacks.
We knew a bit about oppression,
we knew a bit about
second. So, no –
fame? it never really
ever had a chance. We wanted-
freedom.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Must slow down. My name,
is Elizabeth-
Elizabeth Heyrick, wife of John,
John who never did a great deal
worthy of distinction – still,
not a bad man, Mr Heyrick-
John – dead now. Died 8 years on,
into our marriage – left us childless,
but perhaps for the best now-
perhaps none of this
would’ve happened,
if John had hung around.

Dear John,
It’s Elizabeth, your little Dove,
John, I’m dead now,
but thought I’d write and tell you
what’s been going on.

My name,
is Elizabeth-
Elizabeth Heyrick, wife of John,
Born in Leicester, 1769.
You won’t know me
Don’t be embarrassed,
we’ve never met-
you might know William though –
William Wilberforce?-
bear with me-

William Wilberforce.
Born the same year as me,
Politician, philanthropist
and abolitionist.
Leader of the
parliamentary campaign
against the trade in slaves.
Didn’t much like me.

You see,
after my good husband’s death
(god rest his soul)
I began to get
much more involved
in all those
mannly things
like politics and public life-
the immediate end to slavery,
was one if my major fights.

William – he wanted to take things-
much more slowly.
Just the trade in slaves, for now.
But he didn’t get the urgency.
He’d never been forced
to sit in church
with his head down.
Forced to marry a man
twice, thrice,
four times old.
He never knew,
what it was like
not to have the vote.

William. When I wrote my
seminal, Immediate
not Gradual Abolition

(you remember the pamphlet-back in 1824)
Do you remember what you did?
William, head of the official,
society against slavery,
you stopped your men
from coming to speak
at any of our meetings

William
, do you remember?
You tried to block the
distribution
of my pamphlet.
You said it was
unseemly,
woman with teeth.

“for woman to meet,
to publish,
to go from house to house
stirring up petitions..
these appear to me
to be proceedings
entirely unsuitable
to the female disposition.”

William, you were a good man-
a man against slavery-
but not above oppression.

Dear John,
guess what we did?
WE begged and we pleaded
we used all our female ways
all our gentle wiles.
They didn’t work.
So in the end
we took the simple route-
and pointed to the money.

My society, The Birmingham
Women’s Society,
had lots of money.
we led
76 different cells
of woman against slavery-
and we-
were the 5th largest donor
of William’s Party.

When we threatened
to withdraw that money,
Surprise, surprise,
William took us
much more seriously.

In 1833,
the bill appeared in Parliament
led by William-
forced by woman

John,
I didn’t live to see the end of Slavery
the bill passed in 1833.
I died in 31
Just too early.

Still-
I never wanted fame,
I wanted Justice
I wanted Freedom
I wanted liberation.
It’s not the end
but we’ve made a start…

haven’t we?

2 Responses to “Lizzy4”

  1. Pam Thompson said

    I wonder if you could use contrasts more-for instance, a reporting style for dates, events etc; the more emotive style of Lizzie talking to John contrasting again with how she talks to William.

    It would mean you adopting slightly different modes of speech in performance. I think it would work well with those two direct addresses to the two men rather having anything reported about what was said to William etc.

    A refrain of sorts is good as you have in the first few lines (e.g I never wanted fame…) and later but you might want to cut that for impact.

    How about asking some more questions(you use some to good effect)-to the men;yourself as Lizzie;to the audience? This again might break up straight narrative reporting of events. Lizzie sounds contemporary in places-no bad thing for performance purposes-it depends on the overall effect you wanted.

    Looking again,some of William Ws disapproving words could be echoed towards the end to be offset against what Lizzie actually achieved.

    I look forward to hearing this.

  2. Hey Pam,

    Thanks for taking the time to read this through and give such detailed feedback. Really good advise..I’ll have a look and see if I can try out some of those ideas…might just be too much of a rewrite though-feels like me and Lizzy have already been spending a little too much time together!

    I’m not sure I mind the contemporary feel-I guess I was thinking of a more updated E.H. Also, there are very few records of the woman, but what records there are seem to suggest she and John Herrick had quite a stormy relationship. He was a methodist lawyer, considerably older than her (I think) and when he died she became a Quaker and launched herself into a more political life – discovered much more freedom. So, I’m not sure a tender voice towards him would work-or would say what I want to say. ‘The little dove’ reference was meant more tongue in cheek, but on paper might paint more of a tender picture..hopefully the humour of it would come through more in the performance..I do like the idea of different voices though. Hmmm, lots to think about…thankyou.

    LX

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