In 2021, through a series of projects under the banner of VOTES FOR WOMEN 100, PerSIStence Theatre will commemorate 100 years since women in St. John’s first achieved the right to vote in municipal elections. In doing so, they became the first women in Newfoundland and Labrador to achieve this right.
Ladies Reading Room evenings
This project is inspired by the Ladies’ Reading Room events that were held in St. John’s in the early part of the 20th century in protest of the fact that women of the time were not allowed to attend or speak at the local debating societies.
The Ladies' Reading Room, where women WERE allowed to make speeches and debate, was the incubator for the creation of the Women's Franchise League – the leading suffrage group in our province’s history. This group was the instigator of our province’s earliest women’s marches and other work for equality.
“The women developed confidence as public speakers by giving papers, and debating and analyzing issues, all within a socially respectable atmosphere defined by cups of tea and genteel female company.” (Source)
We'll be hosting seven public events in homage to the original Ladies Reading Room and their popular Current Events Club. Our Ladies Reading Room events will occur monthly, on the first Tuesday of each month, from April-October 2021 at the E.B. Foran Room at City Hall.
Each month will have a theme related to women’s equality that was relevant to women both in 1921 and 2021, including:
Women and Politics (April)
Women and Violence (May)
Indigenous Women (June)
Women, Image and Identity (July)
Multicultural Women of St. John’s (August)
Women and Work (September)
Women and Legacy (October)
The evening will start with a short theatrical performance, where audiences will meet a woman from 1921 and hear her story.
Following the theatrical performance, we will “jump forward in time” to host an expert panel discussion on the same topic from a 2021 perspective.
Tea and conversation to follow.
All events will be free of charge, by reservation in order to ensure compliance with TBD gathering limits.
Women's March Through Time
The Women’s March Through Time is a large-scale public event being held on Saturday October 16, 2021.
It will involve the participation of numerous community groups, women-serving organizations, and schools.
The March begins at the Colonial Building with a theatrically-presented rally for women’s rights in 1921.
We will then march en masse to our modern day St. John's city hall on New Gower Street, culminating in a rally for on women’s rights in 2021.
All are welcome to participate. Details on how to apply to march as a group will be forthcoming.
Did you know that in the entirety of Newfoundland and Labrador there are only TWO statues of named women: Shawniditit in Boyd’s Cove and Ameila Earhart in Harbour Grace; there are none in our capital city of St. John’s.
As a leader of the suffrage movement in St. John’s, founder of the Ladies Reading Room, and wife of William Gosling, the mayor of the St. John’s who led the charter change in 1921, Armine Nutting Gosling is an ideal choice to be immortalized as the first statue of a named woman in St. John’s. The vision is for a life-sized statue in bronze, located in Bannerman Park.
Artist Sheila Coultas of the Newfoundland Bronze Foundry will be commissioned, with an unveiling scheduled for October 2021.
A professional theatre production at the LSPU Hall in October 2021, featured around the life of Armine Nutting Gosling. This work has been commissioned exclusively for this project and is being written by Trudy Morgan-Cole.