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Someone Must Wash the Dishes: An Anti-Suffrage Satire

Michele LaRue Performs "Someone Must Wash the Dishes: An Anti-Suffrage Satire" Credits: Ken Smith of Quiet Heart Images

In femininely flowered haute couture circa 1912, she minces to the podium, beguilingly greets her audience, and launches into her campaign—against the vote: “Ladies, get what you want. Pound pillows. Make a scene. Make home a hell on earth—but do it in a womanly way! That is so much more dignified and refined than walking up to a ballot box and dropping in a piece of paper!”

“Woman suffrage is the reform against nature,” declares Marie Jenney Howe’s unlikely, but irresistibly likeable, heroine. Howe’s anti-suffragist is performed exclusively by MICHÈLE LaRUE, a professional actress who is well known to New Jersey audiences. Howe, a pro-suffragist, wrote her Anti-Suffrage Monologue eight years before women won the vote. Her fictional speaker is a charming, guileless enthusiast who sincerely believes that her efforts as a “womanly woman” will keep the Home intact—and save the Nation from anarchy.

Labeled “wicked” in Manhattan and “side-splitting” in Cape May, this production was directed by Warren Kliewer, founder and producing artistic director of the East Lynne Theater Company, which specializes in late 19th- and early 20th-century American works. In Dishes, Michele has shared the stage with former Governor Whitman and convulsed Leagues of Women Voters from Connecticut to Texas. An Illinois native, Michele lives in Secaucus. She is a member of the two major actors’ unions—Actors’ Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA and, as an editor and writer, of Drama Desk, an organization of New York drama critics. For more information about her productions, please visit

“Someone Must Wash the Dishes” begins at 2pm, but the house and grounds open at 1pm. This program is funded by the Horizons Speakers Bureau of the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. This is a free event. Visitors will also be able to peruse the often surprising and always fascinating new exhibit on the 87-year history of the Maplewood Theater, “The Maplewood Theater: Its Forgotten Saga.”

Out in the carriage house the Country Store will open up its coffers for a “super discounted sale” of historic- themed treasures:  early American children’s games, books and toys, facsimile documents, quill pens and ink, historic cook books, cookie molds, tin lanterns, hand blown blue birds, reproductive decorative items and ceramics, and more. The hard- to-find original Doors of Maplewood poster and Smile, the history of Olympic Park, will also be available.

Durand-Hedden House is dedicated to telling the history of the development of Maplewood and the surrounding area in new and engaging ways.  It is located in Grasmere Park at 523 Ridgewood Road in Maplewood.  For more information or to arrange group tours call 973-763-7712.

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