The Pleiades Project to Present ‘A Women’s Suffrage Splendiferous Extravaganza!’ Celebrating Women’s Right to Vote

By Chris Ruel

The Pleiades Project will present a staged reading of “A Women’s Suffrage Splendiferous Extravaganza! (AWSSE!)” on Nov. 5 and Nov. 6, 2021, at The Lab at Alchemical Studios.

“AWSSE!” is a music-theater work inspired by the 1920 ratification of the 19th Amendment, enfranchising women in the United States.

Adaptations of suffrage propaganda, popular music from the Library of Congress Archive: “Songs of Suffrage,” and newly commissioned songs from NYC-based composer Lacy Rose, tell of the leaders and watershed moments of the movement. The work puts particular emphasis on the vital, yet often hidden contributions of suffragists of color.

The staged reading stars Kirsten C. Kunkle as Maestra Impresaria, leading her troupe in relating stories of the women’s suffrage movement. Alexis Rodda joins Kunkle as Ensemble Member #1 (Susan B. Anthony and Carrie Catt); AnnMarie Sandy as Ensemble Member #2 (Frederick Douglass and Ida B. Wells); Adrianna Mateo, as Ensemble Member #3 (Mabel Ping Hua Lee); Sishel Claverie as Ensemble Member #4 (Victoria Woodhull/Maria Guadalupe Evangelina de Lopez); and Rocky Duval as Ensemble Member #5 (Alice Paul and Rose Schneiderman).

Co-creators November Christine, Caroline Miller, and Noelle McMurty, who also served as composer, director, and dramaturg, respectively, lead a creative team comprising composer Lacy Rose, choreographer Alexis Silver, costume designer Olga Turka, Yiddish translator consultant Amanda Seigel, music director and pianist Anneliesa Trethewey, and magic consultant Jonathan Silver.

Founded in 2015, the Pleiades Project’s mission is the promotion and development of female-identifying composers, creators, technicians, and performers. The organization has produced short films to introduce opera to new audiences, a video series based on the famous 24 Italian Songs and Arias—a staple in the training of beginning voice students, and live events such as “AWSSE!”