2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Women's Suffrage Movement in New York State. To celebrate and commemorate this anniversary and all of the brave women who raised their voices so that all women's voices could be heard at the ballot box, Bristol Valley Theater is proud to announce that we are partnering with the National Susan B. Anthony Museum and House in Rochester and the Women's Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls in the summer of 2017 on a project called Hear Me Roar: Women's Voices from Suffragist to Dramatist.
The summer long programming will feature 6 professionally produced plays and musicals--all by women playwrights--four solo performances by female writer/performers from our region and from New York City, historical lectures on women and the suffrage movement, and a panel discussion on opportunities for women in the professional theater.
As the Finger Lakes and our surrounding region is the epicenter of the suffragist movement's history, we are thrilled to be able to feature performances not only at our Naples theater, but at the partner sites where the actual history was made. Audiences there will be able to walk in the footsteps of the remarkable women who fought for women's right to vote.
Producing a full season of plays by female writers is particularly exciting because opportunities for women--or lack thereof-- in professional theater has been the subject of a lot of buzz in our business in recent years. American Theater magazine reports that less that 24% of all plays produced professionally in the United States are written by women. By dedicating an entire season to works by female artists, we hope to shine a light on the issue, but also to showcase the extraordinary works created by women.
And what diverse and exhilarating voices they are! This season--like every BVT season--has a little something for everybody! We'll have everything from a steamy rock musical about a murderous love triangle (Murder Ballad by Juliana Nash and Julia Jordan--it just was a huge hit in London!), to a world premiere about a group of travelers stranded together in a Texas TGI Fridays during Hurricane Elijah (Elijah by Judith Leora), to the inspiring true story of Henrietta Leavitt, a female astronomer in the late 1800's who made remarkable discoveries in what was certainly a man's world, despite the fact that she was deaf (Silent Sky by Lauren Gunderson).
The solo shows will include The Story Box, written and performed by BVT favorite Suzi Takahashi, about the experience of a Japanese immigrant; and, direct from the United Solo festival in NYC, Inez: The Suffragette Herald, written and performed by Melissa Jessel, about the life and work of Inez Milholland, one of the true warriors for women's right to vote.
For history buffs, in July we'll be featuring a lecture by Sally Roesch Wagner, of Syracuse University: "Women Voted in New York Before Columbus" about women's rights in the indigenous Haudenosaunee culture and how that inspired the early suffragist movement. Three local historians, Preston Pierce of the Ontario County Historical Society, Beth Thomas (South Bristol Historian) , and Sue Winslow will talk in August about the contributions of suffragists in Ontario County and those who carried the torch after Susan B. Anthony's death.
With our partner sites also featuring a full line up of celebrations and commemorative activities, Bristol Valley Theater and the Finger Lakes is the place to be this summer to walk in the footsteps of history and hear the stories and the voices of the great women who shaped--and continue to shape--our world.