Parry is the hub of Spin, a theatrical performance centred around the story of Annie Londonderry, the first woman to ride around the world on a bicycle, back in 1894-95. The version showing at the regional museum on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., also called Spin, is a significant selection of songs and stories from Parry's fully fleshed evening of song, spoken words and images.
Parry's show is the convergence of many things: her love of poetry, music and theatre; her lifelong passion for cycling and the freedom it promises; and the historic associations between the emergence of the bicycle as a "new" technology and the early emancipation of women. Hence the focus on Annie Londonderry, who undertook (according to the New York World of the time) "the most extraordinary journey ever undertaken by a woman."
In a phone chat Friday from the streets of Toronto, Parry talked about the show, about the politics of cycling (Hallo, Rob Ford), and about how much has changed since this simple device emerged in the late Victorian era. One of her observations is that the bicycle has been an enduring mobility solution.
"More than a hundred years after the invention of the bicycle, nothing has effectively replace this simple technology. We live in a world of accelerating technology... what else is around now from that period that has not been improved upon or replaced? The bicycle continues to provide that wondeerful feeling of freedom, and how amazing is that?"
Parry believes that there is "a renaissance of the bicycle" in some urban centres, and says that bike shop owners she knows have said that "women are leading that -- the increase in ridership is from women."
All the more interesting to hear the story of Annie Londonderry, a cycling suffragette.
If you can't get to the Waterloo Region Museum on Tuesday (and you really should), Parry will be bringing the entire Spin production to Guelph's The River Run Centre Oct. 30 to Nov. 1.
(There may be more coming out about Annie Londonderry thanks to a film documentary entitled A New Woman: Annie Londonderry Kopchovsky, which is scheduled for release sometime later this year by an American group called Spokeswoman Productions.)