Suffragist Project in Full Swing at Florida Studio Theatre

Todays News

BY PHILIP LEDERER SRQ DAILY FRIDAY WEEKEND EDITION FRIDAY JUN 28, 2019

This past April, Florida Studio Theatre unveiled ambitious plans for The Suffragist Project, an 18-month, community-wide celebration of the woman’s right to vote, culminating in August 2020—the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment. This week, the theater revealed the project’s theatrical centerpiece in the commissioning of four playwrights to create brand new plays about the women’s suffrage movement and its impacts.

Two of the commissioned playwrights, Jacqueline Goldfinger (Babel) and Mark St. Germain (Wednesday’s Child, Relativity and Dancing Lessons), will be familiar to FST audiences, while Sandy Rustin awaits her FST debut this July with The Cottage. For Arkansas playwright Rachel Lynett, this will begin her official relationship with FST. Each will receive a commission of $10,000, as well as continuing support from the theater over the course of the next 14 months, in the form of residencies and access to professional actors and directors, as well as opportunities for audience feedback.

Chosen for craft as well as perspective, each playwright offered their own take on the material, addressing different eras and through different genres—something the theater put a premium on. Being a suffragist can come in many forms, and The Suffragist Project celebrates them all.

“We wanted diverse voices,” says FST Associate Artist Catherine Randazzo. “These are people who get FST, know our audience and are able to produce well-written plays that offer new things. They write fast and they know how to get to the heart of a draft.” One playwright, she says, has already completed more than 70 pages of a first draft, and expects there could be something for FST to see as early as July.

Beyond the theater, to date, more than 35 local organizations have partnered in the endeavor, offering to create their own complementary programming to “accentuate the reason why this is such an important time in women’s history,” says Randazzo, but the greatest collaborations could be yet to come. “The commitment that we have seen from the community partners and the work done in developing those relationships has opened a panoply of ideas,” she says.

And, at its best, that’s the power of something like The Suffragist Project—to create lasting impact beyond the moment. “100 years is a long time,” says Randazzo, “but we need to remember that people fought for us.”

Pictured: Playwright Jaqueline Goldfinger.

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