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Bringing the past into the present at Hubbard Hall

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CAMBRIDGE Hubbard Hall Center for the Arts and Education will bring together the past and the present this weekend with a new play called The Susan B. Anthony Project.

It celebrates the suffrage movement, including an 1894 convention held in the hall, and points out the shortcomings of the movement. It also looks at current issues relating to women and human rights.

David Snider, the executive and artistic director of Hubbard Hall, has been working on the project for some time.

I have been in the gym now for almost seven years. When I got here, I heard, anecdotally, Susan B. Anthony was there. But it wasn’t until about four years ago that we got our hands on the Washington County Post archives and got real proof that she was running a suffrage convention in the Hall in 1894, Snider said.

Through his research, Snider also found that while founder Martin Hubbard is often credited with most of the Halls’ early accomplishments, he passed away a few years after it opened. His wife, Mary Hubbard, had to file a lawsuit to gain control of his estate, but once she won the case, she ran Hubbard Hall for 25 years.

She brought in all these different artists from all over the world. The South African Women’s Choir was there, all kinds of amazing, especially female performers performed in the hall, Snider said.

Mary Hubbard was also friends with Susan B. Anthony and sponsored trips related to the suffrage movement to Washington DC

The play is partly about Susan B. but also partly about recovering Mary’s story, Snider said.

After receiving a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts, Hall’s teaching artists held writing workshops with more than 250 students in Cambridge, Greenwich and Hoosick Falls, teaching Anthony, the suffrage movement, rights women, etc. Student work ended up in the room, as well as Sniders research and writing pieces by Sydnie Heslop, a student at the University of Albany.

Three professional actresses, including D. Colin, Christine Decker and Viviane Nesbitt, step into the roles of Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony and Mary Hubbard. Six students from local schools are also involved in the production and help update these historical figures on what they have missed since leaving.

There is also original music by Greenwich musician Bob Warren. In one song, Anthony and Hubbard sing about their friendship, and another encourages people to claim their right to vote.

Of course, part of the production also celebrates the Women’s Voting Convention held at the Hall in 1894 and conducted by Anthony.

The Washington County Post covered it and there were quotes in there from what she said on the scene. At the start of the play, Decker, who plays Susan B. Anthony, does part of this speech from our stage. There’s a bit of literal time travel, where she dresses up as Susan B. and she says the words that were spoken on our stage in 1894, Snider said.

Next, the production addresses the recent passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as well as the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and how the suffrage movement left women of color behind.

He concludes by encouraging people to come out and vote.

Being in October now, this year, it’s really about the value of voting and the fact that what she was fighting for was the right to vote, Snider said.

When the venue was originally thinking of showcasing this project, Snider said he wished it was more of a gathering celebrating the centenary of the 19th Amendment. Still, with COVID-19, they had to rethink the presentation.

From now on, the audience will be limited to 48 people. There are only three professional actors on stage and six students on the floor so they’re all socially distanced by the way he plays so they’re all masked and they all have microphones so you can hear them beyond. of the mask, Snider said.

Members of the public must also wear masks and the doors to the theater will remain open for ventilation.

We’ve been doing tiny audience shows since July and have had complete success. So we want people to feel safe as well, Snider said.

The Susan B. Anthony Project runs from Friday to Sunday, with shows at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday, 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday. There will be a fundraising performance at 6 p.m. Saturday. Tickets for the regular race are $ 25 and tickets for the fundraising performance are $ 200.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit hubbardhall.org or call 518-677-2495. The Hall is located at 25 E Main Street, Cambridge.

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