Someone Must Wash the Dishes: An Anti-Suffrage Satire

The “Side-Splitting” Monologue That Helped Women Win the Ballot
Mon, 09/26/2022 - 9:45am
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American women won the vote in 1920, following a 72-year battle against - not just male - but female Anti-Suffragists. After a struggle nearly as epic - with-Covid - the Friends of the Island Free Library can finally announce a live presentation of “Someone Must Wash the Dishes: An Anti-Suffrage Satire.” Three Covid-induced postponements have preceded the library’s long-anticipated Suffrage Centennial performance, now scheduled for Saturday, October 1. at 5 p.m. at the Island Free Library.
“Someone Must Wash the Dishes: An Anti-Suffrage Satire” hilariously recaps the historic arguments against women voting. “Woman suffrage is the reform against nature,” declares its unlikely, but irresistibly likeable, heroine. “Ladies, get what you want. Pound pillows. Make a scene. Make home a hell on earth—but do it in a womanly way! That is so much more dignified and refined than walking up to a ballot box and dropping in a piece of paper!”
Following its “wicked” and “side-splitting” debut, “Someone Must Wash the Dishes” has convulsed nearly 300 audiences, from Connecticut to Texas to Washington State.
Part One of “Someone Must Wash the Dishes” was insightfully written in 1912, by Marie Jenney Howe, a popular pro-Suffragist and Unitarian minister. In her “An Anti-Suffrage Monologue,” Howe satirized arguments seen as accurate in her day, though laughable in ours. Her fictional “Anti” sincerely believes being a “womanly woman” will keep the home intact and save the nation from anarchy. “The character is charming, obsessed, oblivious—stylish in wardrobe, but muddled in debate. What her husband tells her goes in one ear and out her mouth,” laughs her portrayer, professional actress Michèle LaRue.
LaRue tours nationally with her repertoire of 30 Tales Well Told—vibrant stories from America’s Gilded Age and Progressive Era. Her 500 past sponsors include libraries and historical societies; colleges and universities; women’s clubs, theaters, senior communities, and international conferences. Last year she was honored to premier a virtual “Someone Must Wash the Dishes” for the Women’s Rights National Historical Park, Seneca Falls, N.Y., birthplace of the Woman Suffrage movement. “I’m delighted to at last be bringing Dishes to Block Island,” declares LaRue. “My thanks to Island Free Library Friends’ indefatigable president, Mary Sue Record. She’s never given up on this booking.”
An Illinois native, transplanted to New Jersey, LaRue boasts family roots in Colonial Rhode Island. Professionally, she is a member of Actors’ Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA. As a writer and editor, she has collaborated on several notable theater books. For photos and information about booking her productions, visit www.michelelarue.com.
Author Marie Jenney Howe (1870-1934), was born in Syracuse, N.Y., educated at Meadville Theological School, Pennsylvania, and ministered in the Midwest. In 1910, she and her husband, Progressive Frederic C. Howe, moved to New York’s Greenwich Village, where she was a catalyst in Woman Suffrage and other social reforms. A lady who herself “did not choose to be important,” she founded the long-lived Heterodoxy, a club for “women who did things, and did them openly.” Howe authored several works, including a major biography of George Sand. Her “Anti-Suffrage Monologue” was widely performed at suffrage meetings throughout the country.
Director Warren Kliewer founded the Cape May, New Jersey-based East Lynne Theater Company (www.eastlynnetheater.org/), in 1980, to revive forgotten earlier American plays and literature. Kliewer was an actor, director, and scholar, whose poems, stories, and essays are published in multiple volumes and periodicals. Among his plays produced in NYC are “The Berserkers” and “The Booth Brothers.”