Woman This Woman That: An Evening of Suffrage Plays, will be performed in the McCarthy Theatre March 22-25, 7 pm each night, free admission, first-come, first-served. These performances are “UPlift” events.
Two one-act plays and a suffrage poem set to new music by local musician and composer Tom Cleary place the voices of women front and center, revisiting a time when their advocacy and determination were catalysts to necessary social change: the right to vote. That same push for change exists today, including with the #metoo movement and outcry over recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions. These current events inspired director Peter Harrigan to once again amplify the voices of women as a way to engage people in conversation about divisive issues and lead toward action to fight social injustice.
The performance will include:
• Tennessee Women for the Vote: A Suffrage Play, 1920. The play, written by B. Ayne Cantrell in 2019, centers around a rally for women’s suffrage set in Nashville, Tennessee on June 25, 1920. The rally is 23 days before the Tennessee General Assembly voted to ratify the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – the final state needed to ratify the amendment, which allowed all American women to vote.
• How the Vote Was Won. The play, written by Cicely Hamilton and Christopher St John, was first performed at the Royalty Theater in London in 1909. It is a satire set in the modest London home of stodgy Horace Cole and his long-suffering wife Ethel, and it is set at a time when suffragettes have called a women’s strike in response to the government view that “women do not need votes as they are all looked after by men.” As a result, women who previously supported themselves leave their jobs and homes and move in with their nearest male relative – with all their possessions (even pets) in tow. After Horace’s sisters, aunts and distant cousins suddenly turn up at his home, he immediately rushes to Parliament to demand the vote for women.
• Woman This & Woman That. This satiric Suffrage poem from 1910 – a parody of the 1890 poem “Tommy” by Rudyard Kipling – has been set to music for this performance by local Jazz and Musical Theatre musician, composer and arranger Tom Cleary. The original work was written by Laurence Houseman, who founded the Suffrage Atelier. The song will serve as the show’s finale.