In conjunction with an advance screening of the film, “Suffragette,” Assistant Professor of Theatre Chris Woodworth will moderate a discussion with British playwright and screenwriter Abi Morgan. The film and discussion are free and open to the public and will take place at the Smith Center for the Arts on Thursday, Oct. 1, at 7:30 p.m.
“The film has already sparked a great deal of buzz at the various film festivals where it has been screened,” says Woodworth, who is a board member for the Smith. “I hope that those in attendance will have a fuller sense of what was at stake for women who fought for the vote. In England especially, where suffrage protest tactics were even more dramatic and violent than the U.S., women put their health, livelihood, and even lives on the line because of their impassioned actions.”
Inspired by true events, “Suffragette” explores the passion of those who fought for women’s right to vote. Academy Award nominees Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter, and three-time Academy Award winner Meryl Streep, lead the cast of the drama about the women who were willing to lose everything in their fight for equality in early-20th-century Britain. The story centers on Maud, a working wife and mother whose life is forever changed when she is secretly recruited to join the U.K.’s growing suffragette movement.
The British film is directed by BAFTA award winner Sarah Gavron and written by Morgan, an Emmy award winner. The film will hit theatres across the nation on Oct. 23.
The screening kicks off the National Women’s Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, which runs from Oct. 2 to 4. During the induction ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 3 at 12 p.m. at the New York Chiropractic College in Seneca Falls, N.Y., the Hall of Fame will celebrate 10 new inductees. The National Women’s Hall of Fame is the nation’s oldest membership organization dedicated to honoring and celebrating the achievements of distinguished American women.
“While Seneca Falls is undeniably the iconic site for American women’s suffrage, suffrage activism was happening all over the country – even right here in Geneva,” says Woodworth. “I think it is especially fitting that we will have the screening in a theatre created by William Smith, a local philanthropist who was also responsible for the founding of William Smith College. There is a beautiful sense of synergy for the communities of Geneva and Seneca Falls as well as the larger communities of those dedicated to celebrating the history of brave women and men who fought and continued to fight for equality and justice.”
After the film, Morgan will share her reflections on the creation of the film and the history that inspired it in a question and answer session hosted by Woodworth. Morgan is known for her works for television, such as “Sex Traffic” and “The Hour,” as well as the films “Brick Lane,” “The Iron Lady,“ and “Shame.“
With a background in theatre history, much of Woodworth’s scholarship has focused on various aspects of the suffragist movement. She has done extensive research on the actress and radical activist Kitty Marion, who was a member of the Women’s Social and Political Union, the suffrage organization that is the subject of “Suffragette.“ She has also published work on the Actresses Franchise League as well as other smaller, theatre-related suffrage entities that were engaged with the cause.
“Most of all, I hope that those in attendance will be further inspired to vote,” says Woodworth. “In recent years, many parts of the country have faced new obstacles to voting access. I hope that watching the film will stoke the fires of engaged citizenship and inspire individuals to vote and work towards more equitable voting access for all.”
Tickets are free but must be reserved online at http://thesmith.org/event-calendar/1495/.