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Feminist future: Auburn theater kicking off suffrage centennial with readings
ARTS & CULTURE

Feminist future: Auburn theater kicking off suffrage centennial with readings

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I edit The Citizen's features section, Lake Life, and weekly entertainment guide, Go. I've also been writing for The Citizen and auburnpub.com since 2006, covering arts and culture, business, food and drink, and more.

Angela Daddabbo is excited about all the women reading at this weekend's "A Feminist Extravaganza: An Evening of Wild Feminist Readings" at Auburn Public Theater.

The event will see them respond, each in their own way, to a question posed by Daddabbo: What does the centennial of women's suffrage mean to you? The theater's artistic director hopes to have 19 women answering that question, as it was the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote. But some women had to drop out, she said, so the final number has yet to be determined. 

Regardless, Daddabbo is especially excited about three of the women performing this weekend at the theater. Lily Ridley, an elementary school student, will read an original work. Martina Mitchell, a middle-schooler, will perform original choreography. And Emma DeGroff, a senior at Union Springs High School, was inspired by the event to create her own original piece of choreography as well.

Having three young women among the performers makes "A Feminist Extravaganza" an event that looks forward, as well as backward, Daddabbo said.

"To be able to include young women, particularly, is our opportunity to touch the future," she said.

Also reading at the event will be Dr. Juhanna Rogers, creator and host of WCNY's "Behind the Woman" and a member of the Harriet Tubman Troupe; Beth Beer Cuddy, co-host of local history podcast "Strange Country"; Melody Smith-Johnson, founder and CEO of the Beverly L. Smith Empowerment Initiative for young women of color from inner cities to access higher education; Katie MacIntyre, host of "The Loving Cup" podcast; Gwen Webber-McLeod, president and CEO of the multicultural leadership programs Gwen, Inc. and You Can't Fail; and former Auburn Mayor Melina Carnicelli.

Carnicelli also has a hand in the event's forward-looking direction. She is the founder and president of 1st Amendment — 1st Vote, a nonprofit that offers nonpartisan leadership and civic engagement opportunities to high school-age girls in order to increase the number of young women who run for office and, eventually, achieve gender parity in government at local, state and national levels. Daddabbo said 10% of proceeds from "A Feminist Extravaganza" will go to the nonprofit, and encouraged donations to 1sta1stv.org

Both Carnicelli and Webber-McLeod are significant to this weekend's event, Daddabbo said, because they founded longtime Auburn women's forum Room Full of Sisters. Daddabbo feels the event takes a symbolic baton from Room Full of Sisters, which she recalled attending as a college student. She hopes "A Feminist Extravaganza" has the same formative effect on the young women there.

Daddabbo also hopes to highlight central New York as the home of the women's rights movement, and Auburn in particular as the home of key figures in the movement like Martha Coffin Wright. For that reason, "A Feminist Extravaganza" will kick off a series of several events at Auburn Public Theater related to the women's suffrage centennial, Daddabbo said. Even though the 19th Amendment wasn't certified to the Constitution until Aug. 26, making that day the official anniversary, she feels such a milestone is worth celebrating all year in the place where it was set in motion.  

"We're putting people in the mindset to think about it from now until Aug. 26 or the end of 2020," she said. "We're standing on this hallowed ground and have an extra responsibility, I think."

Lake Life Editor David Wilcox can be reached at (315) 282-2245 or david.wilcox@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @drwilcox.

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I edit The Citizen's features section, Lake Life, and weekly entertainment guide, Go. I've also been writing for The Citizen and auburnpub.com since 2006, covering arts and culture, business, food and drink, and more.

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