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Rain did not stop play at launch of this year's RIBFEST

Scene from 'Courage Calls To Courage Everywhere'.
Scene from 'Courage Calls To Courage Everywhere'.

It was not quite what the author ordered, but the cast of her new play rose to the challenge when the weather provided a dramatic backdrop for the launch of a Lancashire village festival.

‘Courage Calls To Courage Everywhere’ by Bridget Rabbitts was chosen as the production to launch this year’s RIBFEST, which continues in the Ribble Valley village of Ribchester until July 22.

Some of the cast members from 'Courage Calls to Courage Everwhere'

Some of the cast members from 'Courage Calls to Courage Everwhere'

Rehearsals for the promenade production had taken place in the blazing sunshine of the last few weeks.

However a heavy downpour started as the play, about women’s struggle for a vote and the right to have their opinions heeded, opened on Monday night.

The rain persisted throughout the entire production. Undaunted a capacity crowd followed the performers from RATS (Ribchester Amateur Theatrical Society) around the village.

Bridget, who also produced and co-directed the play with fellow RATS' members Viki Mason and Charlotte Green, said: "In a way we feel we've been as steadfast as these suffragettes - that we didn't give up."

Bridget Rabbitts by the Millicent Fawcett statue

Bridget Rabbitts by the Millicent Fawcett statue

She said she chose the subject of the play to mark a special centenary and public recognition of the work of the Votes for Women suffragist campaigner Millicent Fawcett : "It's the one hundred years anniversary of the Representation of The People Act , plus (there was) the erection of the statue in Parliament Square of Millicent Fawcett in April. I went down to see the statue just after it had been put up - that was very moving."

Bridget continued:"The play pays homage to the many followers of both Millicent Fawcett and Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst. It’s a reflection of a century ago, demonstrating typical Lancashire attitudes, all researched and set in a fictionalised setting. I chose to represent public attitudes towards these tirelessly campaigning women, rather than tell the history of the suffragette movement per se."

Viki added: "We were delighted the audience stayed with us and it just felt they were so gripped, despite the shocking weather. We'e proud to launch the Festival and delighted to be part of it."

The play will be repeated on Thursday at 7pm and on Saturday and Sunday at 3pm.

The Festival continued on Tuesday with The John Hallam Quartet wth Lynn Fairbanks at the village hall at 7.45pm for 8.15pm start.

Wednesday sees a visit by folk duo O'Hooley and Tidow with a 7.30pm for 8pm start.

On Thursday 'Ribchester Music Makers' perform, followed by rhythm and blues with'Level 2'. Friday sees piano, jazz and rock 'n roll events including 'The Jerseys' .

Saturday brings 'Rock on the Rec' and tower tours of nearby St Wilfrid's Church, followed by swing singer Arthur Geldard, who will be performing at 8pm.

Full details of the Ribfest programme, which also includes jazz, choral and swing concerts, can be found at www.ribfest.co.uk

Tickets can be booked by calling 01254 878479.