Celebrating unique voices within our community.
Next up in our NEW WORKS / NEW VOICES series is Phenomenal Women+ Inspire — an evening of original work written by community members about inspiring women+ who changed history.
Our four storytellers are heads of nonprofit organizations, businesses, teachers and artists, whose work within our community has impacted the lives of many. We have paired their pieces with four locally-based theater artists who will perform the work on stage at Westport Country Playhouse.
These new collaborations represent the Playhouse’s ongoing commitment to give back to our community. 50% of donations collected during the broadcast will be donated directly to our community partner, Women’s Mentoring Network. You might remember them as one of our featured community partners for our 2019 International Women’s Day celebration
While we have priced tickets for this event starting at $2, please consider a higher amount if you are able, or make a donation through text-to-give during the broadcast. The Playhouse will use our portion of gifts received to provide scholarships for upcoming education classes and camps, creating the next generation of theater artists.
While we can’t welcome you back to the Playhouse just yet, we plan to offer this virtual event and more like it in the future to showcase voices from our community.
MEET THE ARTISTS
WOMEN WE ALL SHOULD KNOW
Constance Baker Motley
Constance Baker Motley was born in New Haven in 1921. Her legal career began as a law clerk in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense and Education Fund, where she clerked for Thurgood Marshall. From there, she became a key legal strategist in the civil rights movement, helping to desegregate Southern schools, busses, lunch counters — and successfully argued nine of ten cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1964, Motley became the first African-American woman elected to the New York State Senate; in 1965 she was chosen Manhattan Borough President – the first woman and first African-American in that position; and in 1966, President Lyndon Johnson named her a Federal Court judge — the first African-American woman so named. *
*This biography was sourced from the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
Anne Bogart lives in New York City. She attended Bard College (BA) and New York University (MA). She is the co-artistic director of SITI Company, and her works there have included: Café Variations, Trojan Women, American Document, Antigone, Under Construction, Freshwater, Who Do You Think You Are, Radio Macbeth, Hotel Cassiopeia, Death and the Ploughman, La Dispute, Score, bobrauschenbergamerica, Room, War of the Worlds, Cabin Pressure, War of the Worlds: The Radio Play, Alice’s Adventures, Culture of Desire, Bob, Going, Going, Gone, Small Lives/Big Dreams, The Medium, Noel Coward’s Hay Fever and Private Lives, August Strindberg’s Miss Julie, and Charles Mee’s Orestes. She is a professor at Columbia University. She has also written four books: A Director Prepares, The Viewpoints Book, And Then, You Act and Conversations with Anne.
*This biography was sourced from Howlround.
Mary Freeman was born in Derby, Connecticut (1815–1883). Freeman along with her sister Eliza were free women of mixed ancestry (African American & Paugussett) who proudly made Bridgeport’s “Liberia” their home. In 1848, the sisters purchased adjoining lots on Main Street, where they built two modest sized, wood-frame houses. Coincidently, the houses were constructed in the same year Connecticut ended slavery. Little Liberia’s development boom owes a lot to the Freeman family, and Mary and Eliza in particular. The eastern block of Main Street was largely undeveloped until the Freeman sisters arrived, followed by the Duncan House Hotel, which attracted a cosmopolitan array of patrons from throughout the Black Atlantic world. Both sisters developed, bought & sold real estate; managed property; and financed home purchases before women had the right to vote. At one time Mary worked in Manhattan as a hotel chef and Eliza in the home of a local widow. When Mary Freeman died, the only Bridgeporter of greater wealth was P.T. Barnum.*
*This biography was sourced from The Mary & Eliza Freeman Center for History and Community
Mary McLeod Bethune
The daughter of former slaves, Mary Jane McLeod Bethune became one of the most important black educators, civil and women’s rights leaders, and government officials of the twentieth century. The college she founded, Bethune-Cookman University, set educational standards for today’s black colleges, and her role as an advisor to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave African Americans an advocate in government.
A champion of racial and gender equality, Bethune founded many organizations and led voter registration drives after women gained the vote in 1920, risking racist attacks. In 1924, she was elected president of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, and in 1935, she became the founding president of the National Council of Negro Women.
Bethune also played a role in the transition of black voters from the Republican Party — “the party of Lincoln”— to the Democratic Party during the Great Depression. A friend of Eleanor Roosevelt, in 1936, Bethune became the highest ranking African American woman in government when President Franklin Roosevelt named her director of Negro Affairs of the National Youth Administration, where she remained until 1944. In 1937 Bethune organized a conference on the Problems of the Negro and Negro Youth, and fought to end discrimination and lynching.
In 1940, she became vice president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Persons (NAACP), a position she held for the rest of her life. As a member of the advisory board that in 1942 created the Women’s Army Corps, Bethune ensured it was racially integrated. Appointed by President Harry S. Truman, Bethune was the only woman of color at the founding conference of the United Nations in 1945. She regularly wrote for the leading African American newspapers, the Pittsburgh Courier and the Chicago Defender.*
*This biography was sourced from National Women’s History Museum
Gloria Steinem is a writer, political activist, and feminist organizer. She was a founder of New York and Ms. magazines, and is the author of The Truth Will Set You Free, But First It Will Piss You Off; My Life on the Road; Moving Beyond Words; Revolution from Within; and Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions; all published in the United States, and in India, As If Women Matter.
Ms. Steinem co-founded the National Women’s Political Caucus, the Ms. Foundation for Women, the Free to Be Foundation, and the Women’s Media Center in the United States. As links to other countries, she helped found Equality Now, Donor Direct Action, and Direct Impact Africa. For her writing, Steinem has received the Penney-Missouri Journalism Award, the Front Page and Clarion awards, the National Magazine Award, the Lifetime Achievement in Journalism Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Society of Writers Award from the United Nations, and the University of Missouri School of Journalism Award for Distinguished Service in Journalism.
In 1993, her concern with child abuse led her to co-produce an Emmy Award-winning television documentary for HBO, Multiple Personalities: The Search for Deadly Memories. She and Amy Richards co-produced a series of eight documentaries on violence against women around the world for VICELAND in 2016. In 2013, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. In 2019, she received the Freedom Award from the National Civil Rights Museum. She is the subject of Julie Taymor’s recent biopic, The Glorias, released in Fall 2020.
*This biography was sourced from the official website of Gloria Steinem