Opening in Washington DC and destined for Off-Broadway is Sun Flower, a one-woman show about Elizabeth Cady Stanton, written and performed by Elizabeth Perry. The show plays at Arena Stage's Old Vat Theatre, Feb. 15-March 2, to be followed by a New York transfer at a still undecided venue and theatre.
Affectionately called "the grand old woman of America," Elizabeth Cady Stanton helped found the Woman's Suffrage Association with Susan B. Anthony and Lucy Stone in 1869. Sun Flower traces Stanton's life, from childhood in New York to marriage (with 7 children) with Henry Brester Stanton, a noted abolitionist. The play also captures Stanton's historic "Declaration of Sentiments" speech at the first convention on women's rights in 1848, and Stanton's 80th birthday party, held at the brand new Metropolitan Opera House in New York.
This fighter for women's rights shocked her peers with her outspokenness, and it wasn't until 1920, 18 years after her death, that an amendment was passed allowing women the right to vote. Why the title "Sun Flower"? It was the pseudonym name Stanton used when writing her newspaper columns. The Feb. 15 first preview date was chosen to coincide with Susan B. Anthony's birthday. According to production spokesperson Sam Rudy, producers are hoping to bring the show to New York in March to coincide with Women's History Month.
Actress Perry will play Stanton and 25 characters from the activist's life. The performer appeared on Broadway in Inherit The Wind, Present Laughter (with George C. Scott), 84 Charing Cross Road and Coastal Disturbances. Sun Flower was first developed at the American Renaissance Theatre Corporation, which Perry co-founded in 1975.
Designers for Sun Flower, which is produced by Amy Buske and Philip Rose, include Barbara Forbes (costumes), Connie Yun (lighting), and Jeffrey Willens (sound). Director Anita Khanzadian was artistic director of Theatre at St. Clements in New York and has worked at Playwrights Horizons, UBU Rep, Philadelphia Theatre Company and L.A.'s Theatre 40. For tickets ($25) to Sun Flower at the Old Vat, opening Feb. 18, call (202) 488-3300. --By David Lefkowitz