Theatre Revolution rarely shies away from a challenge, as it proves once again with the premier of the Free and Fair Playwright Festival June 3, 4 and 5 at Philipstown Depot Theatre in Garrison Landing. This time it’s tackling voting rights, with a satirical tour de force by playwrights Gabrielle Fox (Mount Kisco) and K. Lorrel Manning (New York City).
The show has been mounted with an eye toward the Nov. 8, 2022 mid-term Congressional elections, as well as the New York State primary run-offs, when party faithful get to choose which candidates will have the party lines for Governor and State Assembly (June 28 primary), and for State Senate and Congress (August 23 primary).
Theater Revolution’s widespread community outreach for the Free and Fair Playwright Festival has enfranchised voting rights groups, artists, and local politicians, who are all involved in the production.
In a nod to art imitating life, taking on stage roles are three Democratic candidates for New York State’s Assembly District 95 seat that is being vacated by Sandra Galef, who has announced her retirement when her term ends on Dec. 31, 2022.
Former Peekskill Councilwoman Vanessa Agudelo, Ossining Town Supervisor Dana Levenberg and Westchester County Legislator Colin Smith will appear in the show on different days.
When asked about voting rights in America, Colin Smith said, “The right to vote is among the most fundamental and sacred of all rights. We must protect it at all costs. We now have a Supreme Court ready to strip us of those rights — a sober reminder that elections have consequences. We must all exercise our right to vote, or else risk losing it.”
Vanessa Agudelo says, “The ability for us to participate in our democracy and choose a better future for ourselves and our family has been obstructed by big corporate interests with immense political influence. Expanding protections around racial voter suppression, such as by passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Act of New York, same day voter registration and no-excuse absentee voting, would give New Yorkers more power to vote in leadership that centers the needs of the people.”
Dana Levenberg said, “Voting rights are the true marker of first-class citizenship. Without them, all other rights are in peril. New Yorkers need to come together to pass the New York Voting Rights Act, and then press our federal legislators to do more to secure free and fair elections nationally. I am so appreciative when art meets advocacy, and this play is an excellent example of how art can be a force for change.”
Sharon Rowe of Croton-on-Hudson, Todd Londagin of Peekskill, and Michelle Concha Herko and Ed Herko of Ossining are part of the production.
Rowe says of the experience, “It’s time to stand up because, as Martin Luther King said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’” Rowe and Fox are recent recipients of Women in Business Awards from 914Inc. Rowe was honored for founding Ecobags and Fox was recognized for her pioneering work as Founder and Artistic Director of Theatre Revolution.
Others involved in the show are Theater Revolution principals Nora Matz (Garrison) and Michael Sullivan (Yonkers), and talent Stavros Adamides of Spring Valley, Kristin Battersby of Beacon, Hasan Gray of Newburgh, and New York City residents Pëtra Denison, Jeaniene Green, Nelly Savinon, and Tomo Lovric.
Gabrielle Fox calls this her passion project. “We all need to fight for voting rights. I don’t care what your issue is; every single issue boils down to voting rights. This is the core issue at the heart of democracy and voters need to stay in the fight. Artists bear a responsibility in telling the stories of our time and starting the conversations.”
- Tickets to Free and Fair Playwrights Festival can be purchased HERE
Audience members must show proof of vaccination and wear a mask.