SPIN is on right now (March 15-27) at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. The play, written and performed by Evalyn Parry with musical accompaniment by Brad Hart (playing the bicycle) and Anna Friz. Parry had a short run last year at the Tranzac Club, where I had the chance to see this unique and engaging musical excursion through cycling and women's history. The bicycle features large in the play in its role as "agent of social change".
Through a series of songs played live on a vintage bicycle, SPIN recounts a theatrical cycle of stories about bikes, women and liberation. Inspired by the incredible true tale of Annie Londonderry, the first woman to ride around the world on a bicycle in 1894, SPIN blends theatre, music and technology in a unique tribute to the bicycle as muse, musical instrument and agent of social change.
Parry also weaves in the stories of a "Amelia Bloomer (promoter of pedal-friendly pants), and bike advocate Frances Willard" (Torontoist). Their bicycle advocacy was tightly intertwined with their women's suffrage advocacy, seeing the bicycle as a way to spur on the freedom of women from traditional roles in the household and society. Bicycles were much less expensive than maintaining horses and faster than walking on foot. And the practicality of the bicycle demanded the loosening of women's fashions to allow them to ride bicycles.
At the end of the play, Parry treated us to an Open Letter to Igor Kenk, Bicycle Thief, written after Igor was arrested and his thousands of bikes were taken and stored in a large warehouse. You can also listen to other songs from the play on the Buddies site.