Anna Brower from the ACLU of Utah, Jenn Gonnelly from the League of Women Voters of Utah and Mary Ellen Robertson from Sunstone attend last night’s preview of SUFFRAGE. Below are their thoughts.
I was very moved by the excellent writing and acting in SUFFRAGE – but mainly by the poignancy of the issues raised so eloquently in the play. The struggles of the women felt so contemporary and their conversations recalled the current debates over same-sex marriage, the ordination of women in the LDS Church and the nature of women’s empowerment more generally. Well worth 75 minutes of anyone’s time! Extremely thought-provoking and compelling.
Anna Brower, ACLU of Utah
I was struck after seeing SUFFRAGE just how painfully current the struggle of these characters, from a hundred years ago, is to my life now. As women we struggle to be everything, brilliant mothers and partners, all the while striving to stand out as individuals. These issues are current. Are we as women represented fully within our government bodies? Do these ruling government bodies have a right to decide how we construct a loving family? Is this continued struggle for equality a distraction from the fulfillment of our joy in having the family we want? While the playwright does not answer these questions, she leaves the whole audience with a powerful need to examine this struggle and ask themselves, “How much progress have we made?”
Jenn Gonnelly, League of Women Voters of Utah
Many of the struggles in Jenifer Nii’s phenomenal play, SUFFRAGE, are familiar to Mormon women: being pulled in different directions by work and family responsibilities, feeling powerless in the face of political change, fighting to speak cherished beliefs out loud and finding courage in the face of opposition to act on those beliefs.
SUFFRAGE doesn’t just describe the situation of two sister wives on opposite sides of women’s suffrage; it describes contemporary struggles in Mormonism as well. It describes the struggle of gay Mormons to be recognized as whole beings by their church. It describes generations of Mormon feminists advocating for change, meaningful inclusion, and women’s ordination. It describes those who feel isolated and alone in their congregations because of their unconventional beliefs, their support of LBGT issues, their political leanings. The play showcases the powerful pressures at work in LDS culture to engender conformity and the strength it takes to speak out, act out and live out with integrity.
Mary Ellen Robertson, Sunstone
Jenifer Nii’s SUFFRAGE receives its world premiere at Plan-B Theatre Company April 4-14, featuring April Fossen and Sarah Young, directed by Cheryl Ann Cluff. Click here for tickets and more information. There will be special post-show discussions with the ACLU of Utah, League of Women Voters of Utah and Sunstone after both performances on April 13.