THE AGITATORS By Mat Smart Comes to Seattle
On the eve of the 2016 election, Valerie Curtis-Newton and Mat Smart, a black woman and a white man, explored together the new play written by Smart, THE AGITATORS. Set between 1849 and 1895, THE AGITATORS begins with a 29- year-old Susan B. Anthony and 31-year-old Frederick Douglass on the Anthony Family Farm in Rochester, New York where Douglass and his family spend Sunday afternoons. The Anthony Farm is a safe haven for abolitionists and a place where Douglass finds refuge with his family and solitude for playing his violin. What would become decades long sometimes adversarial relationship begins with the exchange of a note written by Douglass - "We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and to the future."
As Anthony continues her advocacy and campaigning for women's right to vote through the suffragette movement, Douglass is intent upon ending slavery and securing the rights for Black men to vote. Over the course of time, they each question the validity of their independent struggles and often spar over the conflicts of race and gender rights inherent in their complementary quests. This intersection of race and gender form the tension and compassion explored through THE AGITATORS.
"The play speaks eloquently to the present moment- as we prepare for another election, stated director Valerie Curtis-Newton." "It is about the clear need to shake things up and about how the oppressed and the suppressed are pitted against each other. How a scarcity mindset can be used against people. Consider this against the backdrop of today's political landscape. I'm excited to finally make a production of this play and I continue to be struck with how easily black women were taken for granted and ultimately used as pawns in the political game between black men and white women. The more things change..." she continued.
Slavery had not yet been abolished upon the initial meeting of Anthony and Douglass, seeding even more challenge for the two. Douglass does not know his true birthday and is often reminded of the injustices that are inherent in the lack of ability for one to own and know their own body. Anthony is encouraged by Douglass to use her freedom as a tool for agitation.
Often months pass without communication between the two, yet their friendship continues until Douglass' death in 1895. What takes place in the intervening years make for a fascinating look into a playwright's imaginative reconstruction of a relationship between two of history's most important activists and agents of change.
Formidable Seattle actress Carol Roscoebrings Susan B. Anthony to life on stage. Roscoe's talents have invigorated stages across the city including ACT Theater, Intiman, Book-It Repertory, Seattle Children's Theater, Seattle Shakespeare, and on national stages, and in film. Reginald André Jacksonas Frederick Douglass brings another well-known Seattle actor to the West of Lenin stage. Jackson's memorable performances have graced the stages of Seattle Shakespeare, ACT Theater, Intiman, ArtsWest, Seattle Repertory Theater and others. Jackson is also a playwright and instructor at the Freehold Theatre Lab. The award-winning Valerie Curtis-Newtonwhose work has been seen across Seattle stages as well as in Minneapolis, New York, Los Angeles, Alabama, North Carolina, Louisville, and Colorado among other locales directs The Agitators. She has been the recipient of awards from the Seattle Times, Seattle Stranger (2014 Genius), Gypsy Award for Excellence in Direction, Gielgud Directing Fellowship and NEA/TCG Career Development Fellowship for Directors, and the Crosscut Courage Award for Culture. Curtis-Newton is the Head of Performance - Directing at the University of Washington School of Drama and is the Founding Artistic Director of the Hansberry Project - a professional African American theatre lab.
Tickets: purchased at www.westoflenin.com
$35 General Admission, $25 for Groups of 5 or more and $15 for Students, Seniors, TPS and Veterans.