Road to suffrage class goes to New York
Students and professors from The Road to Suffrage class prepared for their play on women's suffrage by traveling to Seneca Falls, New York from February 7-9 for an intensive workshop in the city of women’s rights.
Professors Roxanne Amico and Joanna Whitney created this special opportunity course to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote in 1920.
According to sophomore student Tess Spitler, “The 19th Amendment was the kickstart to women’s equality and it helped to get women to where they are today, which is why I was most excited for this class.”
Amico and Whitney wanted to incorporate research about women’s suffrage into something bigger than an essay or a PowerPoint presentation for their students.
“We wanted to create a presentation to commemorate and celebrate the anniversary, and since we are both in theatre, that lends itself when we started thinking about a public sharing,” Whitney said. “We thought it would be a really valuable experience to study and then create a performative experience for the students to then share.”
The play will be taking place in 1916 with students Tess Spitler, Skylar Nelson, Delaney Robbins, Grace Hurd and Amber Puk portraying actual Cedar Crest students at the time discussing their views on suffrage.
According to senior student Amber Puk, “I really like that it has a Cedar Crest connection so we are more connected to the piece and the work that we are doing, and the audience will be more connected to it as well.”
The first live presentation of their oral dramatic work will take place on March 28, 2020 at 4:30 p.m. before the showing of “Silent Sky” in Samuels Theatre at 7:00 p.m. Along with this performance, these five students will also present their piece at the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges (LVAIC) Women and Gender Studies Conference on April 25, 2020.
“There will probably be other pieces on the suffrage movement, but I don’t think people are writing original dramatic material, so our performance will be more unique,” Amico added. “Students get up and read their papers and it can be super dry, but our piece will be much more dynamic.”
To prepare for their dramatic work, the class rented out a house in Seneca Falls with the goal of trying to incorporate the mentality of the women who met for the Seneca Falls Convention back in 1848 into their piece. Along with script work, the group also took a trip to the Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca to gain more knowledge about the subject of women’s suffrage.
“We could have done the class without the Seneca Falls trip but I thought that it was a really important moment in time to make that trip,” Amico said.
Although the students enjoyed their trip to Seneca, Grace Hurd is most excited to fulfill the class’s purpose of collaboration in preparation for their presentation at Cedar Crest College and at the LVAIC Women and Gender Studies Conference.
“The most exciting thing is the process of putting the play together,” Hurd added. “I love collaborative activities where we all just create something and we combine all our ideas together to make this awesome piece."