We first learned of Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party while researching the woman's suffrage movement a few years ago. It was quite a shock. Though we had been taught of Susan B. Anthony and the Seneca Falls Convention, the subsequent 70+ years of campaigning for the right to vote seemed curiously absent. In fact, the first biography of Alice was only just published this past year. We found ourselves moved and inspired by this important, almost-lost chapter of history - and the women who led it.
Thus, our multi-disciplinary play, Take What Is Yours: the (too) little-known (true) story of how American women fought for and won the right to vote, began!
In 1917, after six months of leading "The Silent Sentinels", a peaceful form of protest in front of the White House, Alice was arrested and sentenced to seven months in prison for allegedly "obstructing the sidewalk". While in prison, she began a hunger strike - and was consequently put in solitary confinement, force-fed, and interrogated in an attempt to cast doubt on her sanity, discredit her as a leader, and bring an end to the nation's first successful civil disobedience campaign.
Over the years of researching and developing Take What Is Yours (in residency at Naropa University, New Georges, and the IRT Theater; with the first public reading at New York Theatre Workshop) we were struck by how the story of this movement resonates with so many of the social, political, civil and human rights issues we as a democracy are still grappling with today.
The words of the suffragists are strikingly contemporary, poetic and eloquent; and the script of Take What Is Yours is not only inspired by the research, it is composed in the words of the women - gleaned from testimonies and transcripts of their Congressional hearings and court trials, from their own weekly paper The Suffragist, and from articles and interviews published prior to 1920.
In October of 2011, we inaugurated the New OHIO Theater with a workshop production of Take What Is Yours, and were blown away by the enthusiastic reception:
You feel the drama of the play enter your nervous system... HD acting married with beautifully-wrought staging... This is beyond the usual attempt to engage the audience: it is subtle kidnapping.” - Mary Overlie, founder of The Viewpoints
“... an incredible, beautifully-crafted, fiery, fabulous show!” - Julie Kline of Rising Phoenix Rep and Rattlestick Literary Dept.
“An amazing play which left me tearful and breathless and knocked over the head/heart with what theatre should be.” - Kate Hamill
As we prepare to premiere at 59E59 Theaters this May, we invite you to join us in bringing this important story to the stage! We cannot wait to share this exciting new work with you, and thank you for every penny you can contribute. We have been granted seed money from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts (and they JUST awarded us a new "Emergency Grant" - thank you FCA!!), and the Distracted Globe Foundation, and ask you to help us in meeting our fundraising goal. Your contribution at any level will be invaluable!
Synthesizing virtuosic storytelling, a richly-layered cinematic score, exquisite period costumes, historic archival photography, and an innovative, interactive set – this stunning new production features the talents of:
co-writers Erica Fae and Jill A. Samuels
director/scenic concept - Jill A. Samuels
assistant director - Justine Williams
projection designer - Tal Yarden
composer and sound designer - Kristin Worrall
costume designer - Alixandra Englund
lighting designer - Alison Brummer
set consultant - Deb O
and performed by - Erica Fae and Wayne Maugans, with Adrian Jevicki, David Riley and Courtney Stallings
associate producer - Kate Hamill
A hearty thank you from our entire ensemble! We look forward to seeing you in the theater this spring!
- (40 days)