Harriet Martineau (1802-1876) was a social theorist who is often
credited as being the first female sociologist. In Harriet Martineau
Dreams of Dancing, Shelagh Stephenson depicts the great writer in a
period of convalescence, living as an invalid by the sea in Tynemouth.
Shut off from her usual society, Harriet is visited by women of the
locale; Impie, a recent widow who is using her new-found marital freedom
to paint murals on the ceilings of her family home; Beulah, the
daughter of a woman who'd been sold into slavery and escaped; and Jane,
the housemaid, whose unfeted and unexpected gifts lift her out of
domestic servitude and could help Harriet out of illness. Harriet
Martineau is a play about female self-reliance in a time of patriarchal
dominance. Written by Shelagh Stephenson, it premiered at Live Theatre,
Newcastle, in winter 2016.