March 7, 2001

New Touring Play Focuses on Seneca Falls Convention

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Tompkins County area elementary school students will have the chance to learn about the Women’s Rights Movement this month through a play presented by the Hangar Theater. The play will be touring area schools in honor of Women’s History Month, March 5 to 30.

“The Day the Women Met,” a script written by Prof. Carol Kammen, American history and Tompkins County Historian, is centered around the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, a meeting which was considered the beginning of the women’s movement. Women’s Rights and Civil Rights leaders such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and Frederick Douglass attended the conference to discuss the need for change in the laws regarding women’s rights.

“The Day the Women Met” was written for a school tours program presented by the Hangar Theater.

“We’ve been doing this program for seven years,” said Greg Potter, director of public relations and sales associate for the Hangar Theater. “We tour a play usually with a historical theme.”

The Hangar Theater school tours usually tour around central New York schools, however there are occasional public performances. This year, a public performance will take place March 17 at the Tompkins County Public Library at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.

The play is presented to elementary school children and is usually fifty minutes long with a prepared study guide for the students to complete. “After the performance, there is a talk-back session where the students can ask the director and actors questions,” Potter said.

This play “is a fictional story that sets up the problem of who wants to and gets to go to the women’s convention,” said Kammen. The play follows a young girl who wants to attend the convention against the wishes of her father, and focuses on the effect the convention has on the girl and her family as a whole.

“We see parts of the convention, such as [Elizabeth] Cady Stanton’s speech and [Frederick] Douglass’s speech,” said Kammen.

According to Potter, it is “very much a professional production,” with a set design that includes “set pieces that are turned around to move through time.”

“The Day the Women Met” is the second play written by Kammen for the school tours program. The first, about runaway slaves, played two years ago. The play focused on “the reasons why they [slaves] fled and on their reception in the North,” said Kammen.

This performance toured more widely, in venues such as the Lincoln Center in New York City. This time, Kammen wanted “to do something with the Women’s Rights Movement and link it to abolition.”

In addition to being a Cornell professor and playwright, Kammen is also the Tompkins County Historian. “I have been doing Tompkins County history for about thirty years,” said Kammen. She stressed the importance of plays like these and the Hangar Theater Program because they give people an idea of the history of the area.

Archived article by Kate Cooper