American Slavery Project is partnering with 11 theaters for a special presentation of Black Women and the Ballot, three short radio plays that will be available nation-wide and virtually for the first time on June 19, at 7:30pm ET.
Available on Juneteenth, a day that marks the end of slavery in the United States, the timely and relevant plays will be available on American Slavery Project website and YouTube channel as well as Crossroads Theatre’s website and partner social media. The event will end with the actors sharing what voting means to them, followed by a live talkback hosted by American Slavery Project on their YouTube Channel. Phylicia Rashad will be featured in Judy Tate’s intergenerational drama Pulling the Lever.
“Black Women and The Ballot marks American Slavery Project’s entrance into the virtual space of theatre performance since COVID-19 swept in changing our lives, our livelihoods and the way theatre is consumed,” said American Slavery Project’s Producing Artistic Director, Judy Tate. “We are proud that this is many of our partner theatres’ first production on a virtual platform and the topic of voting could not be more critical in this moment of social upheaval.”
Black Women and the Ballot examines the relationship between America and Black women voting in this 100th anniversary year of Women’s Suffrage. Specifically, it sheds light on African-American women’s contribution to suffrage over multiple decades and the undocumented and disenfranchised Black immigrant women overlooked today and highlights American Slavery Project’s platform Voter Outreach Thru Theatre Engagement (V.O.T.E.).
The radio plays will be accompanied by visuals to enrich the virtual experience, including photos from previous productions of the plays as well as historic milestones.
The consortium of award-winning Black theatres collaborating with American Slavery Project include the aforementioned Crossroads Theatre Company (N.J.), Civic Ensemble (Ithaca, NY), Classical Theatre of Harlem, Conch Shell Productions (NYC), Ensemble Studio Theatre (NYC), Harlem Stage, Hartbeat Ensemble (CT), Liberation Theatre Company (NYC), Manhattan Theatre Club (NYC), The Sheen Center for Thought and Culture (NYC) and Tony Howell Productions.
Read descriptions of the plays below.
Don’t/Dream by Saviana Stanescu, directed by Judy Tate
On Election Day, an undocumented immigrant housekeeper, burdened with endless chores, fantasizes about voting and tries to make sense of her entitled employers’ obsessions.
Running time: 6 mins.
In the Parlour by Judy Tate, directed by Dianne Kirksey Floyd
On the eve of the historic 1913 Women’s March for votes, young Howard University student, Edna Brown stitches up walking skirts for her sisters of the newly formed sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, to wear. But when she learns that the famous white suffragette, Alice Paul, the march’s organizer has other plans, she gets help from the formidable Mary Church Terrell and the shrewd president of the Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority, Inc. It is a battle of wit and will in this original imagining of a very true story.
Running time: 25 mins.
Pulling the Lever, written and directed by Judy Tate
Three generations of Black Women remember their most important experiences voting. Phylicia Rashad in the role of “the Ancestor” in Pulling the Lever sums up the importance of voting saying, “The only thing I pray for now is that somebody tells the children what happened because they got to tell their own. If you don’t pass it on people forget.”
Running time: 8 mins.