Women's Suffrage Relived in Performances by East Lynne Troupe Actress

News   Women's Suffrage Relived in Performances by East Lynne Troupe Actress
Actress Michèle LaRue will make New Jersey appearances to conjure the days when American women sought the right to vote.

In honor of Women's History Month in March, she will perform an early 20th-century suffrage monologue (in costume), and short stories by women writers of the period — providing historical context in post-show lectures.

The pieces (among others in LaRue's solo-show repertoire) include The Apple Tree (1903) and The Bedquilt (1906), two short stories written, respectively, by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman and Dorothy Canfield Fisher; plus "Someone Must Wash the Dishes: An Anti-Suffrage Monologue, written in 1912 by Marie Jenney Howe, a crusading pro-suffragist who used satire to make her points against the "Antis," LaRue told Playbill.com.

LaRue is a New York actress long tied to Cape May's East Lynne Theater Company, which specializes in American plays of the Victorian era.

LaRue explained, "I perform the 1912 lecture in character and full costume. She's not a ditz, but she is a woman who gets all of her opinions from her husband. They go straight from her ears to her mouth without pausing in her brain. She's cheerful, helpful (at one point she offers couplets of contradictory arguments to make jumping on her bandwagon easy for her audience), and never harangues."

The audience at LaRue's readings are invited to imagine these are the days before 1920 (when the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gave women the right to vote) and that this is a group of ladies who gather occasionally in a parlor for tea and "stimulating programs." The lecturer of the moment, in the Howe piece, "is opposed to this radical new idea of giving the vote to women." Someone Must Wash the Dishes: An Anti-Suffrage Monologue was directed by the late Warren Kliewer, founder and producing artistic director of The East Lynne Theater Company. An Illinois native, now based in New York, LaRue is a professional actress who tours nationally with a repertoire of shows by late-19th and early 20th-century American writers.

This production of Someone Must Wash the Dishes, produced by The East Lynne Company, premiered in March 1994, during New York City's fourth annual Womenkind Festival. Subsequent performance sites and presenters have ranged from the State Museum in Trenton to the Newberry Library in Chicago, to Mohonk Mountain House, and have included numerous colleges and universities.

LaRue's credits with the 27-year-old East Lynne Theater Company include William Dean Howells' Bride Roses and Gayle Stahlhuth's adaptation of Henry James' The Beast in the Jungle — both directed by Kliewer — and Langdon Mitchell's The New York Idea.

A member of New Jersey Repertory Company, where she has acted in four plays, LaRue also has performed for Centenary Stage (creating the role of agoraphobic Inga in Deborah Brevoort's The Poetry of Pizza) and Garage Theatre Group (The Yellow Wallpaper for SoloFest '07). Her New York credits include performances for New Dramatists, The Lark Theatre Company and Theatre at St. Clements. She premiered Kliewer's Places, Please, Act One, poems around and about the theatre — a glimpse into the private lives of a public art form — at New Dramatists.

LaRue's upcoming performance schedule includes:

  • March 4 at 2 PM: Someone Must Wash the Dishes: An Anti-Suffrage Monologue (plus lecture), Fanwood Memorial Library, 14 Tillotson Road, North Avenue & Tillotson Road), Fanwood, NJ.
  • March 5 at 2 PM, Someone Must Wash the Dishes: An Anti-Suffrage Monologue (plus lecture), Jackson Brancg, Ocean County Libraries, 2 Jackson Drive, Jackson, NJ.
  • March 11 at 2 PM, Someone Must Wash the Dishes: An Anti-Suffrage Monologue (plus lecture), Mahwah Public Library, 100 Ridge Road, Mahwah, NJ.
  • March 24 at 2 PM, The Bedquilt (plus lecture), Lacey Branch, Ocen County Libraries, 10 East Lacey Road, Forked River, NJ.
  • March 27 at 7 PM, Someone Must Wash the Dishes: An Anti-Suffrage Monologue, Oradell Reformed Church, 641 Church Street, Oradell, NJ.
  • March 28 at 7 PM, The Apple Tree, Kearny Public Library, 318 Kearny Avenue, Kearny, NJ.
  • April 30 at 7:30 PM, The Apple Tree, Englewood Library, 31 Engle Street, Englewood, NJ.
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