A Timely Feminist: Dorothea Myer-Bennett on playing Catherine in The Winslow Boy
We caught up with Dorothea Myer-Bennett, who plays suffragette Catherine in The Winslow Boy.
For those who don't know the story, can you explain what The Winslow Boy is about?
Ronnie Winslow, a 13 year old naval cadet, is expelled from military school for stealing. It's about a family's fight to secure a fair trial for him and the sacrifices they are willing (or forced) to make to ensure that this happens.
What can audiences expect from The Winslow Boy?
Laughter and tears. What could be better? It's a beautifully crafted play that deals with family, sacrifice and justice.
Tell us about Catherine. What is her role in the family and in the play?
Catherine is Ronnie's older sister. She's very politicised and a member of the Woman's Suffrage Association. She sacrifices an awful lot to ensure that Ronnie is fairly represented, not because he's her brother and she loves him (which she does), but because she believes in human rights and a social justice.
Why did you choose this role?
I was very eager to play Catherine. She's strong, witty, fiercely intelligent, stubborn; she's in no way perfect and learns a lot about herself through the course of the play. She's a very modern woman who feels deeply and passionately for the cause of the women's Suffrage.
Why do you think Rattigan added a political side to Catherine's character (when in the true story the play is based on, her real-life counterpart had no political leanings)?
Rattigan wrote exceptionally well for women. Perhaps he understood what it was to feel like a second class citizen, being a gay man at a time when one could not be open and accepted. It was a period in history when women couldn't freely make decisions for themselves and by giving her such strength and independence, it really highlights the sacrifices she has to make for a cause she deeply believes in.
Do you feel Catherine's fight is still relevant today?
Catherine's fight is so relevant today, all these years on. The war on equality is an ongoing fight and even at the centenary of the female vote, it's clear the battle is not over. We are still fighting, and it makes the play feel exceptionally modern and pertinent.
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