Votes for Women! A Historical Drama of Forgotten Illinois

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All aboard the Illinois Suffrage Special! Zachary Michael Jack takes you back in time to 1913 in his original play, Votes for Women! The play made its debut at North Central College as part of Illinois’ Bicentennial celebration.

This historical drama features a Chicago Tribune reporter and three extraordinary women bound for Washington DC. Their only goal is to fight for equality in the Land of Lincoln. These women include Virginia Brooks, Belle Squire and Ida B. Wells-Barnet. For historical accuracy, the performance uses direct quotes from My Battle with Vice by Virginia Brooks, The Woman Movement in America by Belle Squire, and The Red Record by Ida B. Wells.

Jack says the play aims to spark curiosity about the states’ history through forgotten stories of the early 20th century. The core question this play answers is, “What can lesser-known features of Illinois history tell us about the ever-evolving identity of our state?” The one-act play sheds light on significant chapters of Illinois history despite their obscurity. It also uses storytelling to make these concepts widely accessible.

Benjamin Paynic directed Votes for Women! It features Guiliano Catalano as the reporter, Katie Rose Ford as Belle Squire, Claire Nelson as Virginia Brooks and Ariana Burks as Ida B. Wells-Barnett. This play was free and open to the public thanks to Illinois Humanities.

Follow the “Army of the Middle West” as they pave the way for a woman’s right to vote and read more about other women of influence in Illinois.