Play about women’s suffrage leader from New Jersey performed in Jersey City

A New Jersey woman who was one of the leaders of the women’s suffrage movement is the subject of a play now being performed outdoors in Jersey City.

News 12 Staff

Aug 28, 2020, 1:24 AM

Updated 1,331 days ago

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A New Jersey woman who was one of the leaders of the women’s suffrage movement is the subject of a play now being performed outdoors in Jersey City.
The play may be about a pivotal moment in history, but the historic moments happening today are evident with the play being performed outdoors, cast members wearing masks and a limited audience size because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This year looks completely different than what we thought it was going to be when we started this calendar year. We had planned on doing a tour,” says Speranza Theatre Company artistic director Heather Wahl.
The Speranza Theatre Company is a nonprofit organization producing plays by and about women. The company says that because of the pandemic, performances of “Votes for Women” are being held in Jersey City parks. The free performance took place behind the historic Van Wagenen House.
“Votes for Women” is based on historical events and real people involved in the 1913 women’s march in Washington, which was organized by Alice Paul, a suffrage leader from New Jersey.
“She was a rock. She was completely uncompromising and people found that very frustrating about her personality,” says Joelle Zazz who portrays Paul in the play.
Racial divisions existed in the suffrage movement in the years leading up to ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. A century later, the debate over equality at the ballot box continues.
"To see and hear what these women went through, to have equality, to have access to vote, to have a right, to have a seat at the table, and we're still fighting about that,” says actress Lynette Sheard who portrays Ida B. Wells.
The play will be performed next month outside Paul’s childhood home in Moorestown. It will be recorded for students to watch online, instead of the in-person tour of schools that was planned before the pandemic.
"Votes for Women" was funded through a $15,000 grant from the Jersey City Economic Development Corporation. 
More information about the play and schedule can be found at the Speranza Theatre Company website.


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