FST Leads Charge on a Celebration of Women's Suffrage

Todays News

Over 100 years ago, FST’s Keating Theatre served as headquarters for The Woman’s Club of Sarasota. On Monday, that rich history was evoked as Kate Alexander, FST’s pioneering Associate Director At-Large, unveiled an ambitious collaboration between 55 arts organizations in the greater Sarasota area called The Suffragist Project: Celebrating 100 Years of the Woman’s Right to Vote. To a packed house that included the political gravitas of state representatives and local elections supervisor Ron Turner, Alexander employed the full emotive force of her theatre background to elicit frequent applause in response to her directorship of the far-reaching collaboration that includes artistic, educational and cultural programming from some of the most prominent arts institutions in the area.

The Project kicks off this Sunday with a rather fitting publicity campaign in Walk with the Suffragists, a march of solidarity that will be a part of the 2019 Sarasota Holiday Parade. As all participants in the walk take peacefully to the streets as part of the parade’s procession, Alexander hopes to bring awareness to the sacrifices made in pursuit of women’s suffrage. “We have no idea what some great women risked to speak out loud with men,” she says, and the parade will serve as a great opportunity to celebrate the freedom of the modern woman to assemble proudly and in full public view.

As part of the project’s community outreach programming that begins in January 2020 and runs through March, the project will feature educational seminars for county students in which trained actresses will give dramatic readings of famous suffragist speeches. Following each performance, students will participate in a Q & A session with a member of the Sarasota County Bar Association, offering an opportunity for practicing attorneys to distill the finer details of the movement’s legislative goals into accessible terms.

Of course, the arts programming will reinforce the celebration of women’s suffrage as well. In addition to the myriad visual arts programming offered by The Ringling, Art Ovation Hotel, ArtCenter Sarasota and others, performance art will feature prominently.
Sarasota Orchestra chimes in for the Project in June 2020 with Voices Unbound: Three Centuries of Women in Music. Voices Unbound will spotlight the work of female composers and their role in breaking barriers for women in classical music. In addition, the Orchestra will sponsor works by several female composers and invite them to participate in the production process of their pieces’ performance.

FST itself will also host the Dangerous Ladies Festival in August 2020, in which four commissioned plays by female playwrights will be presented. Each play will help bring to life the spirit of women who campaigned for the 19th Amendment and also highlight the ever-expanding role of women in theatre. “Women weren’t allowed to have agency and perform in some of the greatest plays in antiquity,” says Alexander.

The full breadth of the programming will culminate with a documentary that tracks the Project from beginning to end. Those interested in learning more about the Project can visit FST’s website, where a full listing of events and sponsors is available.

Florida Studio Theatre, 1241 North Palm Ave., Sarasota, 941-366-9000.

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