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History Amplified Through Theatre

September 12, 2022

By Meg Gilbert and Becca Jennings

It’s been 100 years since women were granted the right to vote in this country. One century later, FST will inspire hundreds of youth in Sarasota and Manatee school districts this year by bringing the voices of the courageous individuals who fought for women’s suffrage to life. Six FST actors will travel to local schools, performing the fiery and moving speeches of suffragists in a new, original performance.

“Part of my job is to think about how Florida Studio Theatre can make the greatest impact for the young people in our community,” shared Caroline Kaiser, Director of Children’s Theatre. “By taking performers right into their classrooms, we give teenagers the chance to see history come to life right in front of their very eyes.”

FST’s Suffragist Project is a city-wide artistic centennial commemoration of the ratification of the 19th Amendment: the Woman’s right to vote. With FST at the helm, The Suffragist Project has brought together over 60 community partners, each presenting their own programming in recognition of this monumental milestone. Through FST’s award-winning arts-in-education initiative, WRITE A PLAY, the Project will also permeate our local schools.

“The theatre is, and always has been, a beacon of turbulent times,” said Associate Director At-Large and Suffragist Project Director Kate Alexander. “It is imperative to me, to this community, that we celebrate these women, while also debunking the myth of them as sweet, old-fashioned ladies.”

Partnering with FST on this work in the schools is the Sarasota County Bar Association. This volunteer group of lawyers and judges will devise a short curriculum to follow FST’s classroom performances, sparking further dialogue about the history of voting and where we are today.

“To hear the words said aloud instead of just existing on the page, students gain a new perspective on these important people and events,” said Kaiser.

“We have a rare opportunity at this celebratory historical moment,” concluded Alexander, “to articulate the voices of the past, so that they may inspire the voices of the future.”

The Suffragist Project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.