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New play about the suffragist movement touring Vermont

Published: Sep. 26, 2021 at 9:49 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - It’s been more than 100 years since women fought for and won the right to vote in the U.S. To honor their dedication, courage and persistence, the Vermont Suffrage Centennial Alliance is touring the state with its new theater production, “The Suffragist Reenactment Society.”

Sarah Mell, Kathryn Blume and Julia Sioss are channeling some of the most prominent women of U.S. history as they recount the decadeslong fight for women’s suffrage.

The Suffragist Reenactment Society is described by the Vermont Suffrage Centennial Alliance as a “fast-paced journey through the history of how women won the right to vote in the U.S.”

But although all women fought for suffrage, not all women had equal access to the ballot box once the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920.

While white women enjoyed their voting freedom, women of color continued fighting for theirs for decades.

The production aims to put a spotlight on the fact that many white suffragists excluded people of color from their movement. They also argued that voting rights couldn’t be granted to both women and Black people, and they believed white women deserved suffrage first.

“It shows how white fragility plays a part in the narrative,” said Blume. ”Do we tell the story about how women got the right to vote and celebrate the work of the suffragists who did that? But in celebrating them, can we also call out their racism? Can we call out their imperfections?”

“Terrible people can do good things and good people can do terrible things and learning to reckon with that and not shove it to the side, cancel it, ignore it just because it’s uncomfortable to look at,” said Sioss.

Through audience participation and trivia, the actors hope people attending the show will learn a lot but also be reminded of the sacrifices made for suffrage and the ways the fight for voting access continues today.

“And it’s not just women. It’s not just people of color. It’s the elderly. It’s the disabled. It’s all of the people who have a hard time voting and there are a lot of places around the country that are making it even harder,” said Blume. “And I would hope that anyone who sees the show would not take their own capacity to vote for granted and would feel a responsibility to make sure everyone’s right to vote is upheld.”

The premiere of “The Suffragist Reenactment Society” will be held on Sat., Oct. 2 at 7:30 p.m. at Main Street Landing in Burlington. The show will then travel to nine different cities and counties across Vermont during the month of October. For a list of dates, locations and times, click here.

Admission is free but you are encouraged to get a ticket in advance.

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