WINTER 2018: The Good Fight


By: Anne Bertram
Director: Elizabeth Lovelady
Fight Choreography: Gaby Labotka



January 6 – February 17, 2018
At the City Lit Theater:
1020 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Chicago

Previews: Saturday 1/6 at 8:00pm; Sunday 1/7 at 3:00pm; Friday 1/12 at 8:00pm; Saturday 1/13 at 8:00pm; Sunday, 1/14 at 3:00pm
Press Opening: Monday 1/15 at 8:00pm
Closing Night: Saturday 2/17 at 8:00pm
Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8:00pm, Sundays at 3:00pm


AUDIENCE ALERT: This production uses realistic staged violence in the telling of the story, including a gunshot.
RUN TIME: 1 hour, 45 minutes

The Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), led by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughter Christabel, was the primary militant group pushing for women’s suffrage in the United Kingdom. Under the slogan “Deeds, not words,” the WSPU advocated targeting property as a form of protest, from smashing shop windows to burning and bombing buildings. Imprisoned WSPU members – including Emmeline Pankhurst – launched hunger strikes, which were initially countered by the authorities with force-feeding; later the government introduced the “Cat and Mouse Act,” under which dying suffragettes were released, only to be re-imprisoned once regaining their health.
To defend their members, the WSPU built “The Bodyguard” – an all-female security team, trained in jujutsu – and THE GOOD FIGHT began.






Photos by Joe Mazza, brave lux inc.


HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! The parallels between “The Good Fight’s” retelling of the British Suffrage Movement – and the Women’s March going on in all countries around the globe now are truly uncanny and a little bit frightening…. The essential scenes for this production directed with passion by Elizabeth Lovelady and fight choreographer Gaby Labotka made great use of the relatively small space for so much physical action and complex action scenes. I loved the use of the sumptuous period costumes and official colors of the WSPU….
Each member of this ensemble did a great job expressing the fever, excitement and anguish of meeting each day’s challenges and humiliations. Emmeline Pankhurst was played beautifully with great wisdom and pride by Jean Marie Koon. Grace Roe, a jailed WSPU member and one of the founders of the movement, was played with wonderful sensitivity and forceful energy by Arielle Leverett.
I highly recommend taking your sons and daughters to see this informative and sadly, still VERY relevant, production to show them how long it takes to win this type of good fight and also that the good fight has not yet been entirely won. –Buzz Center Stage
RECOMMENDED! …Under Fight Choreographer Gaby Labotka’s orchestration, the bodyguards run diversions and fight back. The aggressive skirmishes, a Babes’ hallmark, are energetic, kick ass scenes. The maneuvering is particularly impressive done in the vintage gowns by Costume Designer Kimberly G. Morris.
With the current #metoo movement and Saturday’s 2nd women’s march, Bertram’s play is a fascinating and timely look back to a past fight for equality. Although I left musing that we’ve-come-a-long-way-baby, my stronger emotion is rage…. THE GOOD FIGHT makes me want to channel their militant fervor and start slapping people in power. THE GOOD FIGHT is an inspirational example of how women can effectively organize a coup. –The Fourth Walsh
d12 = HECKUVA GOOD SHOW! I thought a lot about the 2017 Women’s March while watching “The Good Fight.” Though the play takes place during the British suffragette movement in 1913 and 1914, the parallels to today’s protest movement were almost overwhelming…. (Anne) Bertram’s script allows for lots of debate over the best ways to win one’s freedom, and these scenes are powerful. There are never easy answers, and one can see both sides in how these women plan to defend their principles in reality.
(Elizabeth) Lovelady’s casting shines a light on this theme, highlighting issues we face now. (Arielle) Leverett and (Taylor) Raye are strong anchors for a cast full of vibrant, talented women; they are also women of color…. So placing these actresses at the front of the story makes this not just history, but a story for now, about how those who are silenced will never stop fighting institutions, and even allies, for their voices.
…The excellent fight choreography by Gaby Labotka makes the throws and falls land with intense reality. These women are athletes, and they protect their own, using opponents’ strength to their advantage, and protecting one another before striking against others. Such movement represents the heart of “The Good Fight.” –Theatre By Numbers
The connections to the present day are obvious. The WSPU grappled with the same essential question many disenfranchised groups grapple with now: what is the best way to effect change against an unjust system?… All these are messy questions, and (Playwright Anne) Bertram allows their messiness to play out in an ensemble cast of female characters who have different backgrounds, opinions, and lines they will and will not cross. Race is not touched on in the script, athough it has always played a role in the women’s rights movement; however, Babes With Blades’ colorblind casting works well to not only bring fantastic actors like Arielle Leverett and Taylor Raye… to the stage, but also to remind the audience that wealthy white women weren’t the only ones who fought for women’s rights.
The Good Fight is a dark play in many ways, touching on police brutality, torture, and suicidal thoughts, among other bleak topics, but it has a center of optimism and hope that keeps it from falling into the realm of despair. Often, after a particularly dismal scene plays out, the charming and upbeat Mary, played by with great energy and charisma by Elisabeth Del Toro, skips onstage to lighten the mood with a cheery moment.
…How, then, can we apply the principles of jujitsu to the worlds of policymaking and social justice? What is the political equivalent that will allow the underdogs, the marginalized groups like trans folks, queer folks, people of color, people with disabilities and yes, still, women, to overthrow those who are bigger and stronger? It’s not a question with an easy answer, but it’s one that demands exploration. –Splash Magazines
Few are still alive in most nations who remember the fight for women’s suffrage and how it divided women against their families, their faiths, their roles in society. It’s precisely because this hard-fought-for right for half of humanity is taken for granted that the timing could not be more perfect for this necessary and thought-provoking Chicago premiere production of THE GOOD FIGHT, from Babes With Blades Theatre Company.
As always with BWBTC shows, fight figures prominently. Choreographer Gaby Labotka does a spectacular job of using the stage and varying elements of combat — billy clubs, martial arts, hand-to-hand — to show the frighteningly realistic violence the protesters endured year after year. Playwright Anne Bertram shows us not just the battles of the suffragettes, but how they deal with these monumental changes as women, wives and mothers. Director Elizabeth Lovelady skillfully recreates the feelings of fear, danger, and pressure the activists faced as they dared to bring their struggles to a greater audience. Rachel Rauscher’s simple and evocative set creates a close urban environment, yet gives a feeling of expansiveness even when the entire cast is engaging in fights. The cast gives strong performances, with standout work from Arielle Leverett, Jean Marie Koon, and Jillian Leff, as well as from David Kaplinsky, Joseff Stevenson, and Richard Traub each playing multiple male roles.
This is a fine show that will spark many heated discussions, make you question your own dedication and commitment to a movement, and confirm for you the necessity, even now, for resistance. –PerformInk
I think this was a fun way to learn about the suffragette movement, which I have been interested in for a long time. Of course they can’t tell the entire story of feminism, but they showed a lot of interesting and true things about it.
I found the jiu jitsu (fight choreography by Gaby Labotka) very interesting, and I hadn’t realized that they had used it in protests. Edith Garrud (Dornheggen) taught them all jiu jitsu, at the suggestion of Hilda (C. Jaye Miller). And it was super cool to watch these women fight in long skirts and huge hats, and doing it like rockstars.
People who would like this show are people who like jiu jitsu, votes for women, and big hats. –Ada Grey Reviews for You
The central issue in Anne Bertram’s docudrama… revolves around the justification of physical coercion in the pursuit of human rights…. Audiences questioning the applicability of battles long fought and won to global conditions in 2018 may also be slow in recalling populations today marginalized on the basis of gender. In the meantime, Elizabeth Lovelady’s direction and Gaby Labotka’s fight design for the agile actors… of the Babes With Blades Theatre Company gives action-adventure aficionados plenty to cheer. –Windy City Times
The Good Fight shows how women in the United Kingdom fought for the right to vote at the beginning of the twentieth century, leading up to World War I. Director Elizabeth Lovelady, production manager Samantha Barr, and especially fight choreographer Gaby Labotka make the stakes of this struggle painfully clear.
…The production shines a light on an obscure yet fascinating chapter in the suffrage struggle. …Fans of history, ethics, and jujutsu have reason to be excited. –Picture This Post

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