Ashland Contemporary Theatre presents the premiere of “Pankhurst: Freedom or Death,” opening April 7th for eight performances. Written and performed by artistic director Jeannine Grizzard, the one-woman play is directed by Peggy Rubin.
British Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst championed the fight for women’s right to vote as the most important of all causes, declaring: “We are on the greatest mission the world has ever known: to free half the human race, the women, and through that freedom to save the rest.” The women of Britain claimed the vote in 1918, with the United States Congress granting it the next year.
To celebrate 100 years of women’s suffrage, the play uses Pankhurst’s own words to explore her personal battles and her fierce commitment to the women’s “suffrage army in the field.” Set in October 1913, this historical drama probes the deeper issues behind women’s militancy against a world of governance by and for men. The challenges the suffragettes faced a century ago hold a mirror up to women’s continuing struggles to claim their full measure of human rights.
Peggy Rubin is a former OSF company member and current teaching partner to Jean Houston. “Pankhurst” is Rubin and Grizzard’s second collaboration on a one-woman play following Molly Tinsley’s “Pompadour” in 2013. Grizzard wrote two children’s musicals, based on fairytales, which toured the Southeast in the 1990s. ACT has presented several of her one-acts and ten minute plays over the years as part of the Moonlighting series. “Pankhurst” is her first full-length play. As an actor, she has specialized in the solo performance genre, touring “Virginia Woolf: A Room of One’s Own” for seven years and premiering the titular role in “Pompadour.”
Performances are every Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 2pm from April 7th thru 29th at the Ashland Community Center. Tickets are $15, available at Paddington Station, Grocery Outlet and online by clicking here. Tickets purchased online have reserved seats up front. Information line: 541-646-2971.