Florida Studio Theatre Celebrates 100th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage

Florida Studio Theatre announces that it will recognize the 100th anniversary of the woman’s right to vote in the United States by hosting special online events honoring and reflecting on the historic milestone. The 19th Amendment, ending the fight for American women’s suffrage, was ratified 100 years ago on August 20, 1920. Throughout the month of August 2020, FST will present virtual forum events featuring leading women from the Sarasota community. The month of commemorative events will culminate on August 20, 2020—100 years to the day of the historic ratification—with a special online event featuring performances of some of the most inspiring suffrage speeches and a toast to the real people who made the ratification of the 19th Amendment possible.

Suffrage Celebratory Options

This centennial celebration also marks the close of The Suffragist Project, a two-year, city-wide artistic initiative led by Florida Studio Theatre under the guidance of Project Director Kate Alexander, which brought together over 55 community organizations to create their own artistic, educational, and cultural programming in recognition of this year’s important milestone. Participating organizations include Sarasota Orchestra, Sarasota County Schools, Sarasota County Libraries and Historical Resources, Florida Association for Women Lawyers, The Ringling, Sarasota County Bar Association, and the Sarasota Arts & Cultural Alliance. Due to the devastating spread of COVID-19, several events scheduled to take place in March through August of 2020 were cancelled, rescheduled, or postponed. However, Sarasota’s Contemporary Theatre was determined that the centennial of women’s suffrage would not go unrecognized.

“As it has been said, the vote was not ‘given,’ it was ‘taken,’” said Project Director Kate Alexander. “With the ratification of the 19th Amendment on August 20, 1920, 26 million women were enfranchised to vote all at once. Half the country was given the vote. At that time, it was the largest political movement in history. Yet, the right to vote was slow-moving and hard-won—it took seven decades of steadfast devotion. We still have a long way to go, but we must never forget the political resistance, the hurled insults, the imprisonments, and the forced feedings enacted upon these brave women. The right to vote is sovereignty over one’s life. Even in the wake of a pandemic similar to the 1918 Spanish flu, we couldn’t be more moved and proud to stand in honor of these women this August 20, 2020.”

Suffragist Saturdays

FST will present Suffragist Saturdays, in-depth conversations with leading women from the Sarasota community, on August 1 and 8 at 4 PM each day. Taking place virtually over Zoom, FST’s artistic staff will speak with Jane Plitt on August 1 and Sonia Pressman Fuentes on August 8. Plitt was the first Executive Director for the National Organization for Women (NOW), and has advocated for women’s equality for over 40 years. She is currently a Visiting Scholar at the University of Rochester and an author of three books about Martha Matilda Harper. Fuentes is a co-founder of NOW with extensive experience as a lawyer, public speaker, and feminist activist. She is also the author of Eat First – You Don’t Know What They’ll Give You. Both of these online forum events are free and open to the public, though reservations are required. To make a reservation, visit floridastudiotheatre.org or call 941.366.9000

On August 20, 2020, 100 years since the 19th Amendment was ratified the womens’ suffrage movement celebrated its victory. FST will hold a special online event to recognize this significant moment in American history, along with the culmination of FST’s Suffragist Project. Mayor of the City of Sarasota, Jen Ahearn-Koch, will kick off the event at 5:30PM with opening remarks, followed by keynote speaker Charlayne Hunter-Gault, an award-winning journalist. The event will feature special performances of some of the greatest speeches given by famous suffragists—from Sojourner Truth to Carrie Chapman Catt—presented by artists from across the country. Attendees will also get a sneak peek of a new documentary about FST’s Suffragist Project co-produced by BTW Films and METV.

For more information about these events or to make a reservation for Suffragist Saturdays, visit floridastudiotheatre.org or call FST’s Box Office at 941.366.9000.

About Florida Studio Theatre

Known as Sarasota’s Contemporary Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre was founded in 1973 by Jon Spelman. Starting out as a small touring company, FST traveled to places such as migrant camps and prisons. The company then acquired the former Woman’s Club building, becoming the first permanent venue. Shortly after Richard Hopkins arrived, the building was purchased and renamed The Keating Theatre. In the years that followed, Florida Studio Theatre established itself as a major force in American Theatre, presenting contemporary theatre in its five theatre venues: the Keating Theatre, the Gompertz Theatre, the Parisian style Goldstein Cabaret, and John C. Court Cabaret, and Bowne’s Lab Theatre. 

Even with its growth, Florida Studio Theatre remains firmly committed to making the arts accessible and affordable to a broad-based audience.  FST develops theatre that speaks to our living, evolving, and dynamically changing world.  As FST grows and expands, it continues to provide audiences with challenging, contemporary drama and innovative programs.

Photos from Florida Studio Theatre

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2020-08-11