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East Lynne Theater Co. Celebrates The 19th Amendment With NOT ABOVE A WHISPER

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The performance is offered for free. Donations will be accepted.

East Lynne Theater Co. Celebrates The 19th Amendment With NOT ABOVE A WHISPER

"I'd have to be deaf and blind not to have heard and read the protests against me since I started investigating the treatment of the indigent mentally ill. 'And a woman made these terrible discoveries? It really should not be discussed above a whisper.'"

Dorothea Lynne Dix is talking to a lawyer, Charles Dearing, on February 25,1843, in the State Legislature's building in Boston, down the hall from where the Legislature actually meets. Dix is awaiting the outcome of her plea to help those who have mental disabilities, who cannot help themselves. Charles Dearing is a lawyer for the opposition.

As many in the United States celebrate the certification of the 19th Amendment, one-hundred years ago, on August 26, 1920, it is important to note how women had to make their voices heard in government, prior to when they were given the right to vote. Dix spent two years documenting treatment of the mentally ill just in the state of Massachusetts, however, it was Dr. Howe, who read her findings before the State Legislature. No woman, at that time, was allowed to deliver such requests in person. Dix traveled to every state to compile evidence about the horrific conditions for the mentally ill, and in every state, she had to find a man to speak for her in State Legislatures. Fortunately, there were men like Dr. Howe, who believed her cause. In 1843, he married Julia Ward, who later wrote "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."

From Tuesday, August 18 at 8:00 PM through Friday, August 21 at 7:59 PM, a staged reading of this forty-minute play involving Dix and Dearing, "Not Above a Whisper," will be presented on East Lynne Theater Company's YouTube Channel, It is being offered for free, but donations are gratefully accepted.

ELTC's artistic director, Gayle Stahlhuth received a commission from The Smithsonian Institution to write a play about Dix. It premiered at The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. in April,1983, with Stahlhuth and her husband Lee O'Connor performing. During the next four years, they toured "Not Above a Whisper" to mental health organizations throughout the country, to help raise money and awareness.

For this special staged reading, Stahlhuth and O'Connor will reprise the roles they first performed 37 years ago. Stahlhuth's plays and musicals on various themes have been produced in NYC and throughout the country, but it is her ability to capture famous people in her writing that came to the attention of Ken Yellis, Curator of The National Portrait Gallery, when she first performed her "Lou: The Remarkable Miss Alcott" there in 1982. She also received commissions to write a musical about Walt Whitman for Pennsylvania Stage Company, a one-person play about Paul Robeson for TheaterWorks USA, and a one-woman play, which she toured, about Edna Ferber, for the Illinois and Missouri Humanities Councils. She also received funding from the New Jersey Humanities Council to write and perform a one-person play about dealing with her mother's house after her death. It's titled "Goin' Home."

O'Connor, ELTC's technical director and stage manager, is a performer as well. He's worked in regional theater, but most recently has portrayed Sherlock Holmes in ELTC's radio-style mysteries, and is a popular performer for "Tales of the Victorians."

To learn more about "Not Above a Whisper," visit

Meanwhile, "Tales of the Victorians" continues every Thursday at 4:00 PM - live, in a backyard in Cape May. To make a reservation, call 609-884-5898 or e-mail The cost is a minimum donation of $5.00, paid with cash, at the door. "Tales of the Victorians" are also available - at home on ELTC's YouTube channel, To learn more about ELTC's "Tales of the Victorians," visit

Visit, for updates on ELTC's 40th Season, both live and virtual.

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