On Wednesday, March 11 at 7 p.m., the Westfield Memorial Library will host “Someone Must Wash the Dishes: an Anti-Suffrage Satire,” presented by the New Jersey Humanities Council’s Public Scholars Program.
One hundred years ago, American women won the right to vote ... after a 72-year-long fight! In this satire, audiences get a chance to look back at women’s arguments AGAINST voting.
“Woman suffrage is the reform against nature,” declares its unlikely, but irresistibly likeable, heroine. “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!”
The centerpiece of Someone Must Wash the Dishes was written in 1912, by Marie Jenney Howe, a prominent pro-Suffragist and Unitarian minister. Howe satirizes arguments seen as accurate in her day, but laughable in ours.
Her fictional “Anti” sincerely believes being a “womanly woman” will keep the Home intact and rescue the Nation from anarchy. “The character is charming, obsessed, oblivious—stylish in her wardrobe, but muddled in debate. What her husband tells her goes in one ear and out her mouth,” laughs her portrayer: professional actress Michèle LaRue.
Labeled “wicked” when it debuted in Manhattan, and “side-splitting” in Cape May, NJ, Dishes was directed by the late Warren Kliewer, producing artistic director of the Cape May – based East Lynne Theater Company, which he founded to revive forgotten earlier American plays and literature.
LaRue tours nationally with her repertoire of 30 Tales Well Told—vibrant stories from America’s Gilded Age and Progressive Era. Her 400 past sponsors include libraries and historical societies; colleges and universities; women’s clubs, theatres, senior communities, private homes, and international conferences.
An Illinois native, long ago transplanted to New Jersey, LaRue is a member of Actors’ Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA. As a writer and editor, she has collaborated on several notable theatre books.
The program is free and open to Westfield Memorial Library and MURAL cardholders unless otherwise indicated. (MURAL cardholders belong to the 40+ libraries that are part of the Middlesex Union Reciprocal Agreement Libraries. Check the library’s website to see if your library participates.) To register, visit the library’s website at www.wmlnj.org, click on the Online Calendar, or call 908-789-4090 option 0.