A play chronicling the struggle of women to be accepted in to the legal profession is receiving its Birmingham premiere.
Birmingham-born stage and screen actor Martin Shaw and Call the Midwife’s Laura Main will lead the celebrity cast in The Disappearance of Miss Bebb.
The performance will conclude a conference exploring the future of women in the law on 21 October, at the University of Birmingham. The radio-style play, with live music and sound effects, is open to the public.
The Disappearance of Miss Bebb, by lawyer/playwright Alex Giles, is inspired by the 1913 case of Bebb v The Law Society. Gwyneth Bebb was one of three female plaintiffs in the case seeking admission to the Law Society, which at the time prevented women practising as solicitors. The case paved the way for the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919, allowing women to become lawyers.
Martin Shaw reprises the role of Bebb’s barrister, Mr (later Lord) Stanley Buckmaster KC, which he performed at the play’s first performance in London last year. Laura Main will play Miss Bebb.
The 90-minute play premiered last year in London in support of the Kalisher Trust, a charity helping young people from disadvantaged backgrounds pursue a career at the criminal bar.
The event is part of a programme to mark the 200th anniversary of BLS, which accepted its first female member in 1923.
Eileen Schofield, Chair of the Board at Birmingham Law Society, said: “It is a tremendous coup to have secured this play for Birmingham and a great way to mark our bicentenary.
“Women now make up half of new solicitors so it’s astonishing to think that a century ago they were barred from practice. Alex Giles’ work is a powerful drama and a great way to celebrate how far women have come in the legal profession.”
Speakers at The Future of Women in the Law conference include Lord Judge, former Lord Chief Justice; Linden Ife, practising barrister with Enterprise Chambers and Eileen Schofield.