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In a captivating fusion of music, history, and activism, the Alnwick Playhouse recently played host to an evening dedicated to the life and legacy of Josephine Butler.

The event, orchestrated by Northumberland-based theatre company November Club, showcased a new musical, 'Josey - The Indignant Daughter', composed by the talented singer-songwriter Katie Doherty.

Josephine Butler, an English feminist and social reformer took centre stage in the musical, her remarkable story resonating through the powerful performances of young women from Cramlington Learning Village and Duke’s Academy in Ashington were involved in the audio piece that has been produced as a podcast. 

The heart of the evening lay in a thought-provoking panel discussion that underscored the relevance of Josephine's work in contemporary society. Led by Karen Langdon, Vice Principal of Josephine Butler College, the panel comprised individuals deeply entrenched in the realms of activism and academia. Sara Bryson, lead organizer for Tyne & Wear Citizens; Professor Catherine Donovan, Head of our Department of Sociology; and Katie Doherty herself, as the singer, songwriter, and composer of 'Josey', brought diverse perspectives to the forefront.

The discussion unravelled layers of Josephine's life, exploring the roots of her activism and the lasting impact of her campaigns. Attendees were led through a tapestry of questions, delving into the intersection of faith and justice, the evolving landscape of gender equality activism, and the importance of lived experiences in shaping narratives.

This engaging event, which took place on Saturday 4 November, shone a light on the multifaceted nature of Josephine's advocacy, from championing women's suffrage to raising the age of consent and exposing sex trafficking. The parallels drawn between historical struggles and contemporary challenges ignited a dynamic conversation on the necessity of activism today. The enduring 20-year struggle for the repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts served as a poignant example, sparking reflections on persistence, motivation, and coalition-building.

As the panel discussion unfolded on this significant date, it became evident that the evening wasn't merely a musical tribute but a call to action. Attendees were prompted to consider their role in speaking for the oppressed and disadvantaged, reflecting on the urgency of activism in the present day. The intersectional nature of the discussion, encompassing voices from academia, grassroots organizing, and artistic expression, painted a holistic picture of the ongoing fight for justice.


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