a world premiere by Jenifer Nii
April 4-14, 2013
Th, F at 8pm | Sat at 4pm and 8pm | Sun at 2pm
$20 reserved seating ($10 students)
Running time 75 minutes, no intermission | No late seating
Studio Theatre, Rose Wagner
138 W 300 S, SLC
Two sister wives navigate Utah’s little-known place in history as the second U.S. territory to give women the vote.
Who knew we had such a rich feminist history?
Featuring April Fossen and Sarah Young. Directed by Cheryl Ann Cluff. In loving memory of Tracy Makoto Nii.
Blog Entries | Cast/Creative Bios & Playwright’s Statement | Gavin’s Underground | KUER’s “RadioWest” | Selective Echo | SLUG Magazine’s “Soundwaves from the Underground” Podcast (begins at 1:10) | Suffrage Timeline | The Salt Lake Tribune
Who’s Who | Playwright’s Statement
Jenifer Nii has previously premiered THE SCARLET LETTER and WALLACE with Plan-B Theatre Company. She has also written for a trio of Plan-B’s SLAMs. A native of Idaho, she has called Utah home for the past twenty years. A graduate of the University of Utah, Jenifer spent nine years as a newspaper reporter before taking a position in corporate communications for a major healthcare provider. She is an alum of the Plan-B/Meat & Potato Theate Playwrights Lab. Two things keep her from becoming a crazy recluse: Plan-B and doing whatever she can to find homes for shelter animals.
Cheryl Ann Cluff co-founded Plan-B in 1991 and is the company’s Managing Director. She has directed all of Plan-B’s RADIO HOURs (most recently EPISODE 7: SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE BLUE CARBUNCLE) as well as MESA VERDE and Jenifer Nii’s THE SCARLET LETTER. She has designed sound for nearly every Plan-B production since 2000. From 1991-2004, Cheryl also appeared in many a Plan-B show.
April Fossen (Frances) has appeared in Plan-B’s LADY MACBETH, MESA VERDE, SHE WAS MY BROTHER, MIASMA, seven SLAMs and the Script-In-Hand Series reading of 8. Other local credits include LIVING OUT (Pygmalion Theatre Company); THREE DAYS OF RAIN and AN IDEAL HUSBAND (Pinnacle Acting Company); A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM (Davis Arts Council, Sundance Summer Theatre); and ROMEO & JULIET (Davis Arts Council, Pinnacle Acting Company). Regional credits include work with Berkeley Repertory Theatre and California Shakespeare Festival. April holds a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts from UC Berkeley.
Sarah Young (Ruth) has previously appeared in Plan-B’s SLAM and the Script-In-Hand Series reading of 8 and is excited to perform in her first full-length play with the company. Recent credits include ROMEO & JULIET (Davis Arts Council) and BLUE (Theatre Arts Conservatory). Sarah also works as a Stage Manager in her spare time and is a senior at the University of Utah.
Cheryl Ann Cluff (Sound Design)
Jennifer Freed (Stage Manager) is incredibly grateful to be a member of Plan-B and has literally loved every show since joining the company in 1998. A stage manager for more than 25 years, her credits span from Utah to New York and California to Canada.
Phil Lowe (Costume Design) has previously costumed Plan-B’s ANIMAL FARM, BLOCK 8, WALLACE, THE LARAMIE PROJECT: TEN YEARS LATER, AMERIGO, SHE WAS MY BROTHER, BORDERLANDS, LADY MACBETH, THE THIRD CROSSING, THE SCARLET LETTER and ADAM & STEVE AND THE EMPTY SEA. Phil holds an MFA in Costume Design from Utah State University and has designed for many area theatre companies. He is adjunct faculty at Weber State University and Director of Costumes & Wardrobe for Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre.
Jesse Portillo (Lighting Design) has previously lit Plan-B’s EXPOSED, BLOCK 8, DI ESPERIENZA, RADIO HOUR: ALICE, AMERIGO, SHE WAS MY BROTHER, MESA VERDE, BORDERLANDS, LADY MACBETH, THE THIRD CROSSING, THE SCARLET LETTER, RADIO HOUR EPISODE 7: SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE BLUE CARBUNCLE, ADAM & STEVE AND THE EMPTY SEA, ERIC(A), a slew of SLAMs and several Script-In-Hand Series readings. He designs lighting all over the country and teaches lighting design for the University of Utah’s Department of Theatre.
Jerry Rapier (Props Design) has propped about a dozen Plan-B productions.
Randy Rasmussen (Set Design) most recently designed sets for Plan-B’s THE THIRD CROSSING, THE SCARLET LETTER, the tenth anniversary revival of HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH and ADAM & STEVE AND THE EMPTY SEA. He had designed nearly every Plan-B set since 1991. Randy is also Technical Director for Plan-B and Kingsbury Hall.
Plan-B Theatre Company develops and produces unique and socially conscious theatre. Founded in 1991 and incorporated in 1995, SUFFRAGE is the 68th world premiere out of 92 productions in our history. Plan-B is the proud recipient of 42 City Weekly Slammy/Arty Awards; 16 QSaltLake Fabby Awards; and Organization of the Year Awards from Equality Utah, Human Rights Campaign and Transgender Education Advocates (TEA) of Utah. The company operates under a Letter of Agreement with Actors’ Equity Association, an Independent Producers Agreement with the Stage Directors & Choreographers Society and is an Associate Member of the National New Play Network.
STATEMENT FROM PLAYWRIGHT JENIFER NII
The fight for women’s rights was nowhere hotter or more fraught than in territorial Utah in the late 1800s. Having granted women suffrage in 1870 – second among the would-be states only to neighboring Wyoming – Utah saw its women stripped of their voting rights by a Congress eager to use the issue to stamp out what it considered a burgeoning evil: Mormonism, and the practice of polygamy. SUFFRAGE explores the impact of this confluence of battles through the eyes of two women – sister wives torn between the Law and their God.
I began work on SUFFRAGE with a spotless slate. No slate at all. I knew nothing about the suffrage movement, very little about polygamy, and very very little about Utah in the late 1880s. So, work on this project began with research.
Writing a play about actual events featuring actual people is a daunting thing. I wanted to remain faithful to the history but not make SUFFRAGE a tutorial. I wanted to see and portray the period as . . . personally . . . as possible. So while it was tempting to include historical figures including Elizabeth Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Eliza R. Snow, I chose instead to create characters through whom we could experience life – women affected by and involved in the suffrage movement.
Ruth and Frances emerged as I began to work through the questions I had about suffrage in Utah: What were the arguments and challenges? How did it affect “regular” people? What has been the result?
My hope is that SUFFRAGE is balanced, accurate without being didactic and includes and involves the audience. More than anything, I’d love it if audiences left the theatre engaged and wondering whether they – we – are honoring the battle these women and men fought and endured.
When Congress convenes in January 2013, it will include a record number of women: 20 female Senators and more than 80 Representatives. New Hampshire will be the first state to send an all-female delegation. In this and other ways, the next Congress will break new ground in American political life. However, in an opinion article published in The New York Times in November 2012, university professors Tali Mendelberg (Princeton University) and Christopher Karpowitz (Brigham Young University) wrote that there is much – much – farther to go and much more to do.
“Our research shows that female lawmakers significantly reshape policies when they have true parity with men . . . On average, women make up about 20 percent of lawmakers in the United States and abroad. We found that when women constituted 20 percent of a decision-making body that operates by majority rule, the average woman took up only about 60 percent of the floor time used by the average man. Women were perceived – by themselves and their peers – as more quiescent and less effective. They were more likely to be rudely interrupted; they were less likely to strongly advocate their policy preferences; and they seldom mentioned the vulnerable. These gender dynamics held even when adjusting for political ideology (beliefs about liberalism and egalitarianism) and income.”
Still, I choose to be hopeful. I choose to be hopeful that women will continue to make the kinds of gains we saw in the 2012 elections — in the number of women chosen to serve, the number who voted, and the passion with which they engaged in issue-based debate. I am hopeful that the suffragettes’ struggle here in Utah and elsewhere will result in a fairer, more reasonable life for all Americans. I want to believe their sacrifices will matter in the end.