Century-old play touches on modern themes Twitter
By Bill Landauer
Alice Paul, famous American activist for women’s rights, once said, “I feel the movement is a sort of mosaic. Each of us puts in one little stone, and then you get a great mosaic at the end.”
As of 2018, Paul’s mosaic remains unfinished. But a major stone—the right to vote for some women living in Great Britain—turns 100 years old this year. In 1918, Parliament passed the Representation of the People Act, giving millions of women in that country what American women achieved two years later with the ratification of the 19th Amendment.
To commemorate the earlier moment and to celebrate the cause for equality worldwide, College Theater will stage Votes for Women!, a play by Elizabeth Robins advocating suffrage for women.
The performance will be presented at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Ahart Family Arts Plaza, which is adjacent to Buck Hall, 219 N. Third St., Easton. Admission is free. An encore performance will take place Oct. 13 during Homecoming Weekend.
Votes for Women! follows four main characters who represent different poles of political perspective. The melodramatic structure and idioms may show the play’s age, but those perspectives are hardly expired.
“They’re talking about men controlling women’s decisions,” says Stephanette Schwartz-Smith, production coordinator at the Williams Center for the Arts. “We’re still talking about that.”
The performance is a staged reading. The cast will move around as in a typical play, but there’s little scenery and players will read from scripts.
The three-act play was originally produced in 1907 at Royal Court Theater at Sloane Square in London. Over the decades, it has become THE play about the women’s suffrage movement, says Schwartz-Smith.
“There are many themes that show up in the play that are still pertinent to our political discourse today,” she says. “And all around the world. [The right to vote] is something we take for granted here.”
The play is one of a series of offerings from the theater department this year focusing on the theme of women’s rights. Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew premieres in November and Qui Nguyen’s She Kills Monsters hits the Buck Hall stage in late February.
Lord John Wynnstay/Mr. Pilcher — Jay Ascher ’22
Lady John Wynnstay — Mary Kate Arcuri ’19
Mrs. Lydia Heriot — Karen Marmaras (Sept 29-30), Michelle Leonard ’20 (Oct 13)
Miss Jean Dunbarton — Lucy Kade ’22
The Hon. Geoffrey Stonor — Matt Peters ’19
Mr. St John Greatorex/Mr. Allen Trent — Henry Ficcadenti ’21
The Hon. Richard Farnborough — Liam Heino ’21
Mr. Freddy Tunbridge — Xiaonan Chen ’19
Mrs. Freddy Tunbridge — Deniz Ozbay ’22 (Sept 29-30), Maggie Shannon ’21 (Oct. 13)
Miss Ernestine Blunt — Deniz Ozbay
Miss Vida Levering —Morgan Limmer ’21
Working Woman — Michelle Leonard (Sept 29-30); Maggie Shannon (Oct. 13)
Members of the Crowd — John Marmaras, Ethan Miller ’21, Liam Heino, Xiaonan Chen, Nancy Fievre ’19, Jay Ascher
Directed by Stephanette Schwartz-Smith