“The only question left to be settled now is: Are women persons? And I hardly believe any of our opponents will have the hardihood to say they are not. Being persons, then, women are citizens; and no state has a right to make any law, or to enforce any old law, that shall abridge their privileges or immunities. Hence, every discrimination against women in the constitutions and laws of the several states is today null and void.” – Susan B. Anthony, 1873
This quote from Susan B. Anthony is strikingly relevant today. The work of Susan B. Anthony, the Woman’s Suffrage Movement and the fight for Equal Rights for All is perhaps more important than ever before. At the same time, very few students and community members know our history with the movement or how they can actively engage in the fight for Equal Rights today. Given how necessary this work continues to be, and in celebration of the centennial of the women’s right to vote in 2020, we are creating The Susan B. Anthony Project, a new play with music focused on Susan B. Anthony, her work, her legacy and her relevance to our lives today.
On February 8-9, 1894, Susan B. Anthony hosted a Woman’s Suffrage Convention at Hubbard Hall in Cambridge, NY. We have received a NY State Council on the Arts grant this year for $30K to create a new play based on this history with local students and adults writing on issues of women’s rights, the Woman’s Suffrage Movement and our local ties to this history. From September through February, we will conduct writing workshops in schools and at the Hall with writers of all ages and backgrounds. We will take these writings and create an original script that explores these issues and integrates an existing song cycle about Ms. Anthony by local artist Bob Warren, entitled Only the Message Mattered. This new theatrical piece with music will be produced at Hubbard Hall in May of 2020. The play will be about Susan B. Anthony, her convention at Hubbard Hall in 1894, her deep friendship with Mary Hubbard and issues of Women’s Rights in the U.S. today. Our hope is to use theater to teach students our local history tied to the Woman’s Suffrage Movement, and to empower all of us to continue the work in pursuit of Equality for All.
This project was born out of research conducted over the past two years in searching the archives of the defunct Washington County Post for any and all mentions of Hubbard Hall in their publications from 1878 to 1977. The search led to the discovery of published proof of Susan B. Anthony’s hosting of a Women’s Suffrage Convention at the Hall in 1894. At the same time, we became aware of Bob Warren’s song cycle dedicated to Susan B. Anthony and his desire to continue to work on this piece. The creation of a new theatrical piece based on community-generated writing and workshops is a natural continuation to recent initiatives at the Hall of engaging our community in creating new work (including The Farming Plays Project, a new play created and produced in 2017 with local students and the local farming community).
The opportunity to highlight our history with Susan B. Anthony will also raise our profile as a historic destination, while reaching new audience members and community members not yet familiar with Hubbard Hall. We will celebrate the important work of the Woman’s Suffrage Movement and the fact that this history lives within the Hall and our community.
Since October 2019, we have been working with 4th, 7th, 8th and 11th graders in Hoosick Falls, Cambridge and Greenwich in their classrooms to explore and write about the history of Susan B. Anthony and The Woman’s Suffrage Convention.
Now we are working on plans to implement these performances for smaller audiences with perhaps 40 people max and spread apart to see this live event. We’re also therefore looking at doing multiple performances per day, so we can rotate audiences. We are actively continuing to develop the script and will be launching some online writing opportunities for YOU to contribute to the process. We will be creating an online compendium of student writings and writings from community members like you to share digitally throughout the summer and fall, in celebration of the Women’s Right to Vote, Women’s Rights writ large, and the Fight for Equity for All continuing today.
We are also thrilled to announce that we have been awarded a new history marker from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, which will designate Hubbard Hall as an important historic site via Susan B. Anthony’s Women’s Suffrage Convention held here in 1894. We will reveal this marker as part of our Gala festivities on October 17th, 2020, which will be installed in front of the Hall on Main Street.
We hope you can join us in this important work – as a writer, performer or audience member! – David Snider, Executive & Artistic Director