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Stage show about human rights pioneer Eglantyne Jebb opens tonight

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A theatre show that tells the inspiring story of human rights pioneer and social reformer Eglantyne Jebb - the founder of Save the Children - opens tonight at Auckland’s Q Theatre as part of its Summer at Q Festival.

The one-woman show EGLANTYNE - written and performed by Kiwi producer, writer and actor Anne Chamberlain - has been performed around the world, including England, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Australia, Lebanon, Switzerland, Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique and Malawi, since it first debuted in New Zealand several years ago. This is the first time the play will be performed in Auckland.

"Eglantyne is one of the most influential women of the 20th century, yet one of the least known," Anne Chamberlain says.

"Eglantyne was brave, visionary and unconventional. I’m delighted to bring EGLANTYNE to Auckland and present live theatre again at this challenging time. Sharing Eglantyne’s story around the world has been such a wonderful adventure and great privilege, especially in places that resonate strongly with Eglantyne like her Shropshire childhood home, Geneva, where Eglantyne drafted the Rights of the Child, London’s Central Family Court and Beirut where humanitarian work is frontline."

In May 1919, challenging the British Government’s lack of response to the devastating famine in post-war Europe, Eglantyne and her sister Dorothy founded Save the Children. From her Shropshire childhood, Eglantyne went on to Oxford University, Cambridge social work, Bloomsbury parties, heartbreaks, suffrage rallies, spiritualism, the Balkans, arrest in Trafalgar Square, and pioneering children's rights. In 1923, Eglantyne drafted the Rights of the Child which evolved into the current United Nations Convention.

"Many of Eglantyne’s humanitarian concerns are extremely relevant today," says Anne.

"The devastation of Syria, the refugee crisis, famines, all made worse by the COVID-19 global pandemic. As well as Eglantyne’s heroic moments, the play explores her struggles, vulnerabilities and heartbreaks, drawing her closer to our lives, frailties and humanity. Set mainly in Eglantyne’s world, the show also leaps to contemporary New Zealand as centuries, personal passions and global issues collide."

The show opens tonight at 6.45pm and will be held each night until Saturday 13 February at Q Theatre, Auckland.

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