Women’s suffrage play ‘Perseverance’ free prevew Nov. 14 at Maine State Library

AUGUSTA — Portland Stage brings several actors and playwright Callie Kimball to the Maine State Library in Augusta for a free preview and reading of a new play, “Perseverance,” at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14.
The event is sponsored by the Maine State Museum, Maine State Library, Maine State Archives and Maine Suffrage Centennial Collaborative. A reception and refreshments at 5:30 p.m. precede the reading, which begins at 6 p.m. The library is at 230 State St. The reception and event are free and open to the public.
The play is a special commission by Portland Stage and the Maine Suffrage Centennial Collaborative as part of the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in 2019 and 2020. Callie Kimball, who is still refining aspects of the play in anticipation of a full staging by Portland Stage next year, will be on hand following the reading for a discussion and audience comments.
The play is set during August and October in 1920 and 2020 in a cellar and the kitchen of a forgotten municipal building in the fictional rural town of Hillcroft, Maine, as well as at the front door of a museum. In 1920, Perseverance “Percy” Turner, an African-American schoolteacher, writer, and suffragist, is determined to elevate her students above the circumstances in which they were born. One hundred years later, in the same town, Dawn Davis, a white schoolteacher, is running for office on a platform of education reform. The two women’s stories intertwine as questions about the ownership of history take center stage.
“Perseverance” illuminates the complexities at the heart of the suffrage movement and highlights the contributions of African-American women who were often sidelined by white suffragists. By juxtaposing past and present, Kimball reveals the bravery and profound divisions that can shape the course of social movements. “Perseverance” fills a notable gap in American theater, according to Anita Stewart, executive and artistic director of Portland Stage. There are currently no significant theatrical works on women’s suffrage. As Stewart comments, “Kimball’s play has the potential to greatly enrich the field of theater and America’s cultural heritage.”
Kimball’s plays have been produced and developed in theaters across the country. She is an affiliate artist at Portland Stage Company, playwright-in-residence at Theater at Monmouth, and a former MacDowell Fellow.
For more information,visit www.portlandstage.org; www.mainestatemuseum.org; or www.mainesuffragecentennial.org