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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

URI’s Alan Shawn Feinstein College of Continuing Education
to host Second Annual Women’s History Festival of new plays


PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- February 13, 2001 -- The Spilt Milk Theatre Project has teamed up once again with URI’s Alan Shawn Feinstein College of Continuing Education to present its Second Annual Women’s History Festival of new plays from March 22 through 24 at the college, located at 80 Washington St. in downtown Providence.
As part of URI’s celebration of Women’s History Month, the festival, entitled "In the Basement of the Capitol Building: Dusting Off HERstory,"opens March 22 at 8 p.m. and runs Friday and Saturday, March 23 and 24 at 8 p.m. The festival showcases three original one-act plays connected thematically by their accounts of women’s wartime experiences.

Written by co-artistic director Kim Williams of Warwick, the evening’s comedic opener, "Siege at Lathom House," tells the true story of Ladies Isabel and Kathryn Stanley who, aided by humor, intelligence, obstinacy, perseverance and a small garrison of loyal soldiers, were left to defend their home when Parliamentary forces unexpectedly attacked their village in the early days of the English Civil War.

"The Distance Between Stars," authored by company member Lenny Schwartz, is the evening’s second play. A romantic comedy set against the backdrop of the Korean War, the play charts the trials and tribulations of two friends as they make their way through the maze of the Women’s Auxiliary Corps boot camp while exploring the good and bad of romance with GIs at home and abroad.

The third and final play of the evening, "The Nightingale," written by co-artistic director Kristen Williams of Warwick, is based on Marie de France’s medieval lyric poem of the same name. Updated to early 1940s America, "The Nightingale" tells the story of Charlotte August, a Massachusetts housewife forced to take over her husband’s job at a local factory when he enlists in the Army and is sent to Europe. The play explores Charlotte’s experiences in love and work during the "hire and fire" epidemic of World War II.

The festival’s title, "In the Basement of the Capitol Building: Dusting off HERstory," is as much literal as it is metaphorical. In 1921, a monument to suffragists Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton was commissioned by The National Women’s Party and, upon its completion, was presented to the then all-male Congress, whose members promptly assigned it a spot of honor in the Capitol Rotunda.

Soon after, though, lawmakers relegated the sculpture to a downstairs storeroom to make way for a monument to Rhode Island founder Roger Williams. Women’s groups tried for 32 years to get it back into the Rotunda before meeting with a measure of success in 1997, when both houses of Congress agreed to display the monument in the Rotunda for 12 months.

Established in 1997, The Spilt Milk Theatre Project is a repertory company with a vehement social and political conscience. Their mission is to produce theatre that reflects, challenges, and unites Rhode Island’s various communities. They aim to confront and defy media stereotypes of homogeneity in traditional forms of entertainment by presenting positive and diverse images of all peoples of both genders, all races, religions, ethnicities, and regardless of sexual orientation. Spilt Milk aims to celebrate the vitality and resilience of the human spirit in all its diversity and to take a look at what happens when the milk gets spilt.

For Information: Jan Sawyer, 874-2116

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