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Hillary Clinton and Malala Yousafzai Talk Producing a Broadway Musical

In school, did you learn anything about the women’s suffrage movement, other than maybe that it wasn’t until 1920 that a constitutional amendment gave women the right to vote everywhere in the USA ? No? Well, there’s a show on Broadway for that.

“Suffs,” short for suffragists (don’t call them suffragettes, that’s considered sexist), is now in preview.

“I knew almost nothing about the suffragettes,” said Shaina Taub, the show’s star and writer. “I think I knew some basic information about Susan B. Anthony. I had heard of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and vaguely knew that there was a women’s rights convention in the 19th century that sort of started the process. And that was it.”

Suffragettes Carrie Chapman Catt (Jenn Colella) and Alice Paul (Shaina Taub) in a scene from the Broadway musical “Suffs.”

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The musical picks up the story in 1913, the year thousands of suffragettes staged the first-ever major political march in Washington, many dressed in white, led by a woman on a white horse.

The march was organized by Alice Paul. “Suffs” highlights the cause, flaws and all, including the rivalry between Paul (played by Taub) and Carrie Chapman Catt (played by Jenn Colella), titans equally devoted to the movement, but from different generations employing very different tactics. “It’s not ancient history,” Taub said. “We can go back and touch the sufferings. Alice Paul lived to 1977.

“These rights were not inevitable; every generation must fight again and again to protect these rights and freedoms,” Taub said.

Lucy Burns was imprisoned, tortured and force-fed – imprisoned longer than any other suffragist. Ally Bonino said of Burns: “It’s the ice cream sundae above the dream ice cream sundae.”

Serving as ambassadors for the show’s message are Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai (who was shot in the head after advocating for girls’ education in Pakistan) and Hillary Clinton (who was nearly elected the first female President of the United States) were ambassadors of the show’s message. named producers.

“It was so powerful for me,” Yousafzai said during a rehearsal. “All these incredible characters, and (to) see all the complexity behind all this struggle.”

Two of the producers of “Suffs”: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai.

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Their presence was like extra juice for actors already delighted to participate in a show that represents more than the sum of the roles they play.

Colella (whose character, Carrie Chapman Catt, later founded the League of Women Voters) said, “I’m a new mother. I’m doing this now so her voice can be more easily amplified when she’s able to speak.” .

Nikki James is crusading black journalist Ida B. Wells. “It reminds us that what we do is bigger than us, than just acting, than just telling a story,” James said.

“Suffs” makes no secret of the fact that the women’s suffrage movement discriminated against black women.

Journalist Ida B. Wells (Nikki James, second from left), in a scene from “Suffs.”

CBS News

What felt like a real brotherhood developed over the course of a month of rehearsals for “Suffs.” Virtually everyone involved in the show is female.

Teichner asked Yousafzai: “For you to lend your name and reputation, it has to be pretty significant. What was the main reason you said yes to “Suffs”?

“It sends a very strong message for women and girls that the fight may not be over yet,” Yousafzai responded. “Of course, I’m talking about serious things. But I also believe that sometimes it’s not a speech, sometimes it’s not a protest that can make anything happen. When I think of a musical, for me, It’s a tool, it’s a platform where you’re spreading this message, but at the same time, people are enjoying it.”

As the cast and orchestra rehearsed together, they all seemed to be having a great time. Clinton herself was enthusiastic: “I’m going to march to do something!” she exclaimed. “I can’t tell you, it’s such a joy. It’s going to change history.”

A rehearsal for the Broadway musical “Suffs.”

CBS News

When asked why she wanted to produce a Broadway show, Clinton responded, “Last summer I received a letter from Shaina asking if I would be a producer. And you know, I’ve never done anything like this before. I’m a big theater fan. But I said, “Sure. I’ll try, if I can be of any help.”

“We’re in the middle of an election year, and I think any conversation about getting people to vote, about the fact that it took so long for women to get the right to vote, about the fact that you shouldn’t throw away (or) ignore the power of your vote, I think that’s all good,” Clinton said. “It’s so meaningful and truly historic, because women’s history is not being told in a way that is accessible, exciting and true.”

Teichner said: “But it’s more than that with you. It’s your life.”

“He East my life!” Clinton said. “Keep fighting, keep walking, keep trying. You know, what is this great phrase in one of the songs: Progress is possible, but not guaranteed. That’s how I feel about the whole life I’ve led, the progress I’ve seen.”

On the first night of previews, women showed up dressed in suffragist white and put the scarves they found on their seats. Maybe this could continue to happen.

Members of the public at “Suffs”.

CBS News

For more information:

Story produced by Sara Kugel. Editor: Lauren Barnello.

See also:

Votes for Women: How the Suffragettes Won


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