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'The Suffragist Project' podcast highlights the lives of women’s suffrage leaders

making a flag Alice Paul.jpg

Alice Paul sews a star onto the NWP Ratification Flag, representing another state's ratification of the 19th Amendment. Photo courtesy of The Suffragist Project.

The "Suffragist Project," a play-turned-podcast debuted by OdysseyStage on March 1, highlights the personal lives, struggles and victories of leaders of the women’s suffrage movement.

Annie Taft, a playwright and the president of OdysseyStage, created the series. It features the stories of prominent female historical figures including Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott. 

The series is a fictional interpretation of real events. Taft said she and her fellow playwrights did extensive research by reading journals, letters and speeches from these women to get a feel for their personalities. They then created their own interpretation of their personal lives behind the scenes.

Taft said the series was meant to debut last March for the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. Due to COVID-19 the series had to be delayed and reimagined into a podcast format.

Taft added that actor Bruce Rosenbloom deserves a lot of the credit for creating the podcast, because he stepped up as the sound engineer for the project, ensuring it was able to reach audiences despite the pandemic.

Taft hopes the series will remind people of the sacrifices and hard work these women put in to secure rights for future generations.

“They had to stand up against all this ridicule and hatred sometimes from people who felt threatened by them,” Taft said. ”I want people to know that these women existed, so they aren't just forgotten to history.”

Regina Gale, the actress who plays Black suffragist leader Sojourner Truth, said it's important for listeners to hear these women's stories and speeches so they can think about whether the messages make a difference and are still relevant today. 

“Her being a Black woman, uneducated and being able and willing to stand up for rights that she herself was fighting for, that she was not going to be able to participate in anyway, that says something about the character of that woman,” Gale said.

Gale said continuing to fight for gender and racial equality is crucial for society to continue to grow and progress.

“We really have to try to find a way to help and even the playing field so that everybody can play, because when we can all play equally, we all will win more because we're going to up the ante because we have more to give,” Gale said.

Gale said the very existence of the series shines a light on and honors the work women have put into creating change — an important step in the right direction. 

“Anytime that you highlight anything that's out of the norm, you're going to have a conversation, so you have to always be mindful of that, and that's why you always want to make sure that space is allowed,” Gale said.

That spotlight on something out of the norm is what drew high schooler and OdysseyStage social media intern Eloise Rich to the project.

“In my U.S. history class, we're learning about the suffragist movement, but what 'The Suffragist Project' is offering is just an entirely new perspective that I don't think is really readily available,” Rich said.

Rich said she listened to the podcast on her lunch break and enjoyed it. 

“I didn't really know what to expect at all, but the storytelling and the acting was just all really well put together and I could almost visualize what was going on,” Rich said.

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