Original Show
A Women's Suffrage Splendiferous Extravaganza!

With a generous grant from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, The Pleiades Project presents, in a staged reading, the stories of the trail-blazing leaders and watershed moments of the women’s suffrage movement in the United States.

 

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About AWSSE!

Summary

As the centennial celebration of the ratification of the 19th Amendment approached in 2020, The Pleiades Project was inspired to create and produce a music-theater work in conversation with this milestone event in American history. With a generous grant from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and co-created by November Christine, Noelle McMurtry, and Caroline Miller, A Women’s Suffrage Splendiferous Extravaganza! was born, inspired by turn-of-the-20th-Century vaudeville.

In this staged reading of A Women’s Suffrage Splendiferous Extravaganza!, our daring Maestra Impresaria and her dynamic troupe present the stories of the trail-blazing leaders and watershed moments of the women’s suffrage movement in the United States. Through unique adaptations of suffrage propaganda, popular music from the Library of Congress Archive: Songs of Suffrage, and newly-commissioned songs from NYC-based composers Lacy Rose and November Christine, we endeavor to showcase the breadth and diversity within this eight-decade long struggle, including the pivotal contributions of suffragists of color, who have been continually marginalized and erased from our collective re-telling of the history of the women’s suffrage movement.

Join us on an exhilarating jaunt to celebrate, explore, and problematize this historic fight to win women the vote! By examining the intersection of the voices of American women of the past and women of today, we ask ourselves and our audience to consider how the fight for equality continues in this quest for the enfranchisement of all citizens in our democracy.

event Details

AWSSE! Staged Reading

November 5th, 2021; 7 PM
November 6th, 2021; 7 PM

The Lab at Alchemical Studios
104 West 14th Street, 2rd Floor, New York, NY 10011

A Women’s Suffrage Splendiferous Extravaganza! is made possible in part with public funds from Creative Engagement, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and administered by LMCC.

Meet the Cast!

Kirsten C. Kunkle

Kirsten C. Kunkle

Maestra Impresaria

Soprano Dr. Kirsten C. Kunkle has been hailed as an outstanding singing actress with a voice that has been described as beautiful, ethereal, powerful, fiery, and bewitching. Among her favorite roles are Agathe in Der Freischütz, the title role in Suor Angelica, Magda and the Foreign Woman in The Consul, Mimì in La bohème, Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus, Contessa in Le nozze di Figaro, Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Iolanta and Brigitta in Iolanta, Zemfira in Aleko, Lisa in Pique Dame, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Laetitia in The Old Maid and the Thief, and the Witch in Hansel and Gretel. With the Philadelphia Opera Collective, she has created leading roles in numerous world premieres. In 2016, she made her professional straight play debut in Machinal with EgoPo Classic Theater and her professional musical theatre debut in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum with the Scranton Shakespeare Festival. 

A voting citizen of the Muscogee (Mvskoke) Nation, Kirsten commissioned and premiered sixteen original compositions, including one of her own, based upon the poetry of her ancestor and highly-acclaimed poet of the Native American Muscogee Nation, Alex Posey. She has recorded extensively through the Comic Opera Guild, specializing in the works of Victor Herbert. Her recordings are collected at the Library of Congress, the National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian Institution (NMAI), and the Merkel Area Museum in Merkel, Texas. Kirsten is included on the list of Classical Native American Artists and Musicians at the Smithsonian Institution’s NMAI and on the Molto Native Music list of performers.

She is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Wilmington Concert Opera, a grassroots women and minority led opera company in Wilmington, Delaware. She had her solo European debut with the Sofia Philharmonic in the role of Arabella in Johann Strauss II’s Blindekuh. She is also a NAXOS recording artist for Blindekuh, which was released in March of 2020 to extraordinary reviews. She was featured as a composer and soloist for the Circle of Resilience concert, with Intermountain Opera Bozeman in May, 2021. Most recently, Kirsten recorded the leading role of Catherine Sloper for the world premiere of Felix Jarrar’s new opera “Washington Square,” available exclusively on Apple Podcasts. Upcoming engagements include the inaugural performance of Jerod Tate’s new opera “Shell Shaker: A Chickasaw Opera” and her first complete “Messiah” as soprano soloist with Toledo Choral Society. Kirsten has spent the majority of her time during the pandemic recording new works, promoting the arts through Wilmington Concert Opera, writing opera libretti, and raising her two year old daughter. Kirsten is delighted to be making her debut with The Pleiades Project! www.kirstenckunkle.com

Alexis Rodda

Alexis Rodda

Ensemble Member #1 (Susan B. Anthony and Carrie Catt)

Alexis Rodda is a soprano described by New York Classical Review as having “a lovely voice, full of color and body in every register.” She attended Princeton University (BA), Mannes College (MM), and currently attends CUNY Graduate Center as a Five-Year Fellowship recipient and doctoral candidate. She previously taught in the voice department at Brooklyn College Conservatory and was previously a lecturer in Music History at Bronx Community College.

In March 2019, she was chosen as a 2019 – 2020 Fulbright Scholar; she worked with Dr. Gerold Gruber and Dr. Michael Haas at the Exiled Art Center in Vienna to unearth the works of unknown composer Egon Lustgarten. Her research recently resulted in a concert at the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York entitled Healing a Fractured World: The Music of Egon Lustgarten where several songs from this exiled artist had their world premiere She had previously won a grant, the Elebash Award, to travel to Munich and work in the Lahr von Leitis Archive and conduct similar work on the Lustgarten estate. Her research continues to focus on exiled composers from whose works were declared “entartete Kunst” or “degenerate art” by the Nazi regime. After a performance of these musical treasures, Nina Pantano of Brooklyn Discovery wrote: “Ms. Rodda was a vocal symbol of the strength and resilience of these songs.”

A strong proponent of new music, she premiered four new works in the past several years including the leading role in a full length opera, A Taste of Damnation, by Avner Finberg. She also co-founded a boutique opera company called The Secret Opera, which premiered and supported chamber works from new composers, while also presenting innovative new productions of traditional operatic works. George Grella of New York Classical Review described The Secret Opera as “one of the small, imaginative opera companies rapidly proliferating in New York City. They are nimble, make the most of limited resources, and present talented singers and new works that are outside the physical and financial scope of the Metropolitan Opera.”

Previous roles include Agathe (Der Freischütz), Miss Jessel (Turn of the Screw), include Second Lady (Die Zauberflöte), Hanna (The Merry Widow), Rosalinde (Die Fledermaus), Nedda (I Pagliacci), Nora/Alice (She, After), The Witch (Hansel und Gretel), Berta (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), Mimi (La Boheme), Genovieffa (Suor Angelica), and Penelope (Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria).

She was a 2013 Boston Metropolitan Opera National Council District Winner and Regional Finalist, a 2014 NYC Metropolitan Opera National Council Encouragement Award Winner, and a 2014 Elebash Grant Winner. She was a 2016 Serge & Olga Koussevitsky Young Artist Award Finalist and a Violetta DuPont Competition Encouragement Award Winner.

Alexis also sings sacred music professionally; she is currently the Music Director at Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary, and previously sung with the Augustinerkirche in Vienna, as well as St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. She has studied with Arthur Levy, Meagan Miller, and currently studies with Lauren Athey.  

 

AnnMarie Sandy

AnnMarie Sandy

Ensemble Member #2 (Frederick Douglass and Ida B Wells)

Described as “excellent, musical” by Classical 91.7 Music Library Reviews, mezzo-soprano AnnMarie Sandy is garnering praise for her operatic, concert, and recorded work. She is featured on the New World Records recording of Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha, which BBC Magazine called “a work of tremendous significance”, and is said to be “among the inspired cast’s stand-out performances” by Classics Today. The mezzo-soprano grew up in Houston, TX and is based in Brooklyn, NY.

In 2007 she made her Lincoln Center debut at Avery Fisher Hall, performing the alto solo in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. AnnMarie made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2013 singing the role of Ursula, performing with the American Symphony Orchestra, the Collegiate Chorale, and the Manhattan Girls Chorus, in the Strauss opera Feuersnot.

In the fall of 2014 AnnMarie returned to the Lyric Opera of Chicago and performed in the reprised ensemble cast of Porgy and Bess. She was featured in the work Let My People Go! A Spiritual Journey Along the Underground Railroad with the Susquehanna Valley Chorale, and also performed in recital the Ravel song cycle Chansons madecasses at Bucknell University.

In 2017 AnnMarie performed in the concert [GENERATE] William Parker: Healing Songs from the Tone World, which was held at the experimental Brooklyn venue Roulette. She has also performed with William Parker at innovative New York City venues such as The Kitchen and The Stone. AnnMarie is featured on the album Voices Fall from the Sky, the vocal compilation album of renowned free jazz bassist and composer William Parker. Described by Pop Matters as William Parker’s “album of a lifetime”, in the featured piece The Blinking of the Ear the magazine states AnnMarie as: “stretching her operatic range to sing notes of freedom, healing, and peace.” In fall of 2018 she performed at the Jazz at Lincoln Center venue Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola with William Parker and his jazz ensemble.

AnnMarie is an original cast member of the 2012 workshop production iFigaro! (90210}, performing the role of Donna Curson, which featured with Morningside Opera at the New York City venue Dixon Place. The production was later performed in 2013 at The NSD Theater in New York City. She joined the cast of iFigaro! (90210} in 2016, making its second Off Broadway feature at The Duke Theater on 42nd Street, reprising the cover role of Donna Curson.

2020 performances included the William Parker piece Trail of Tears at the Brooklyn venue Roulette. In October 2020 she featured her debut recital at Scholes Street Studio, performing works by Ravel, Faure, Mozart, Strauss, Danielpour, and more. In Spring 2021 she featured with Open Gates Project, a new project of Gotham Early Music Scene engaging the visibility of artists of color. Summer of 2021, AnnMarie performed in the opera chorus at Bard Summerscape in the production Le Roi Arthus. Upcoming performances include the Open Gates Project concert The Divine Feminine: Centering the Voices of Women of Color in Early Music.

Adrianna Mate0

Adrianna Mate0

Ensemble Member #3 (Mabel Ping Hua Lee)

Adrianna Mateo is a unique triple threat artist: solo violinist, singer-songwriter, and actress. Elegant and edgy, her talent has led her to open for Alicia Keys, perform her songs for more than 40,000 people at MCU Park, sing on MTV and the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, perform solo violin at the U.N. General Assembly, act onstage at the Metropolitan Opera with Anna Netrebko and perform solo violin at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in concurrent performance runs, and record her music at Jungle City Studios, courtesy of the studio. She made her Broadway debut in “Tootsie” subbing for concertmaster. Adrianna is inspired by triple threat artists such as Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez as well as singer-songwriters Taylor Swift and Halsey. In the words of her friends, she’s a Badass Disney Princess. For more info: linktr.ee/adriannamateo & on all social media @adriannamateo.

Sishel Claverie

Sishel Claverie

Ensemble Member #4 (Victoria Woodhull, Maria Guadalupe Evangelina de Lopez )

Mexican Mezzo-soprano, Sishel Claverie, enjoys a versatile career in opera, musical theater, new music and multidisciplinary collaborations.

A champion of new operatic works, Ms. Claverie has been involved in a number of world premieres, including: the role of Renata in the alternate cast of HGO´s Mariachi-opera El Milagro del Recuerdo, and Carmelita in Ted Rosenthal’s jazz-opera Dear Erich, produced by the New York City Opera. Next season she will create the role of Gloria in the video-opera series Everything for Dawn by Experiments in Opera; Fia in Pietá by Jake Landau with New York Opera Collaborative; and The Cheshire Cat, in Amy Scurria’s Alice, an operatic Wonderland, produced by Music Off Main.

Sishel is increasingly interested in multidisciplinary collaborations. During quarantine, she helped develop an online adaptation of Verdi’s Macbeth, Lady M alongside Heartbeat Opera, experimenting with video footage and electronic sound design. Later this year, she will be featured as Carmen in the upcoming short film Chinese Laundry, directed by Giorgio Arcelli.

As a recent grantee of City Artist Corps, she is currently producing Forever IN Between, a multimedia concert of vocal chamber music, to be performed this fall at The Tank in NYC.

Sishel has recently won several awards for her work directing and singing numerous music videos for online opera competitions, like the Harold Haugh Light Opera Vocal Competition, and the Opera en Castellano Competition, among others.

Recent performance highlights include the title role in Piazzolla’s tango-opera Maria de Buenos Aires with Opera in the Heights, Charlotte Malcolm in Sondheim’s A Little Night Music with Alamo City Opera; and Carmen with Heartbeat Opera, which was praised by the New York Times as “Riveting”. She performed as the Baroness and covered the Old Lady in New York City Opera’s revival of Candide, directed by Hal Prince.

Sishel has sung 34 roles to date and has been seen in recital in multiple cities across the United States, singing a wide range of repertoire, including Chamber Music, Art Song, Contemporary music and Latin folk.

Ms. Claverie has been a resident artist at the Santa Fe Opera, Utah Opera, the Britten–Pears Young Artist Programme in Aldeburgh, Wolf Trap Opera, the Renata Scotto Opera Studio in Rome, and S.I.V.A.M., Mexico’s prestigious Young Artist Program.

An advocate of opera for the youth, Sishel has participated in more than ten productions specially tailored to children and teenagers, having sung nearly 500 performances.

Sishel holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music from the University of Houston and a Master’s Degree in Music from Rice University. She currently resides in New York City.

Rocky Duval

Rocky Duval

Ensemble Member #5 (Alice Paul, Rose Schneiderman)

New York based opera singer, performance poet, actor, and TEDx speaker Rocky Duval has been performing professionally since the age of 11 and has appeared in opera, television, stage, concert, and off-Broadway.

Ms. Duval has performed with many companies, including The Metropolitan Opera Guild, The Glimmerglass Festival, Opera on Tap NY, Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance, The Westchester Baroque Festival, The Colorado Music Festival, The Seattle Symphony, Opera Steamboat, The Barcelona Opera Studio, among others.

She has performed at a wide range of venues internationally including, The Apollo Theatre, The High Line, on Spanish National Television (La1), CBGB, WQXR’s The Green Space, Opera America, Monestir Pedralbes Barcelona, Schauspielhaus Bochum, The English Theatre Frankfurt, as well as ARTE television, Germany.

Other highlights include: The Flower Power Duet with OperAerobics, with over 30K views, which was described as “What the world was waiting for” and “what the [redacted] did I just watch?”.

Rocky is an Executive Producer for Opera on Tap, and has a thriving business as a public speaking coach. Some of her clients include: Coca-Cola, 7-11, Netflix, L’Oreal, & Universal Music Group. She holds a Bachelors of Music from the University of Washington, and a Diploma in Coaching from NYU

Meet The Creative Team!

November Christine

November Christine

Co-creator (book, lyrics), Composer

November Christine (she/her/hers) holds a degree in Cellular Biology and Molecular Genetics from the University of Maryland, as well as a BM in Musical Theatre from the East Carolina University School of Music. Ms. Christine produced her award-winning musical MIRROR, MIRROR at the 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival, followed by a 3-week run in Los Angeles, CA. November’s historical hip-hop drama, LEGACY THE MUSICAL was showcased in London in 2017 and won “Best of Fest” at the 2018 New York Musical Festival. She was commissioned by Artistic Stamp Inc. to write her latest piece, IDA, a six-part epistolary play on the early years of Ida B. Wells. November is also a BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop Lyricist and 2021 NYCLU Artist Ambassador.

Lacy Rose

Lacy Rose

Composer

Lacy Rose is a New York-based classically trained vocalist, composer and poet. She collaborates regularly with choreographer Coco Karol and composers Sxip Shirey, Alaina Ferris, and John K. Stone. She has opened for and performed with such eclectic artists as Cocorosie, Baby Dee, Dave Malloy, Amanda Palmer, and Osso String Quartet. She made her Mostly Mozart Festival debut in the Schubertiade Remix at Lincoln Center alongside members of the International Contemporary Ensemble. As a composer of neoclassical art songs, Lacy regales her audience with tales of magic, myth, tragedy and love. Maria, her six-part song cycle, explores the inner life and personhood of Gustav Klimt’s muses, Maria “Mizzi” Zimmermann and Maria “Ria” Munk. Rose composed the score for a theatrical adaptation of Dylan Thomas’ screenplay, The Doctor and The Devils, and is currently adapting Clarice Lispector’s The Passion According to G.H. into an opera with director Dara Malina.

Noelle McMurtry

Noelle McMurtry

co-creator (dramaturg), Producer

Noelle McMurtry, vocalist, is drawn to the intersections of music and theater, particularly through art song, new music, and early music, to explore diverse and underrepresented feminist perspectives. She is most interested in innovative, thematic programming to create new contexts in which to approach the classical music “canon,” specifically through female-centric storytelling and prioritizing the works of historic women composers. With The Cantanti Project (NYC), Noelle collaborated on The Little Ghost, Ophelia Transformed, and Her Story, all programs focusing on the perspectives of women in song. Since 2015, she has presented her original programs, including Ophelia and Her Sisters, Femme en fleurs, The Heavenly Banquet, To the queen of my heart, Head, Heart, and Portraits: The Self Illuminated in New York City and Baltimore, MD concert venues.

Noelle currently serves as Director of Live Programming for The Pleiades Project, a production platform for female-identifying artists through digital and live performance opportunities with a focus on classical vocal repertoire. For The Pleiades Project’s 2020-2021 season, Noelle will co-create, produce, and serve as dramaturg for A Women’s Suffrage Splendiferous Extravaganza!, an original music-theater work marking the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

Noelle is a frequent and avid collaborator in new music. For the 2019-2020 season, she performed the title role in excerpts from Kaija Saariaho’s monodrama Émilie with Now Hear This, debuted with IN Series (DC) at the Women Composers Festival in Kate Soper’s chamber opera Here Be Sirens, as well as co-programmed and performed in the IN Series’ Festival Gala Concert with works by Louise Talma, Jessica Krash, and Caroline Shaw. During the 2020-2021 season, Noelle collaborated with INVISION (DC), performing the role of Senator Ben Cardin in a virtual production of Melissa Dunphy’s Gonzales Cantata, as well as making her film debut in German Romantics: Clara, exploring the songs in Romantic-era composer Clara Schumann’s Op. 12.

To further her research on historic women composers, feminist musicology, and more diverse concert programming methodologies, Noelle is in her second year of a joint Master’s in Musicology and Doctorate in Musical Arts at Peabody Institute under the tutelage of soprano Ah Young Hong. Through her recent affiliation with Peabody Institute, Noelle participated in an art song residency with DC-based composer Lori Laitman, as well as co-created a feature-length film-concert, I take the long way there, in response to creating art during the COVID-19 pandemic, which included the song repertoire of Jessica Krash, Melissa Dunphy, Clara Schumann, Vittoria Aleotti, and Maddalena Casulana. In 2021, Noelle was also awarded a Presser Award to further her research into the life and Lieder of German Romantic-era composer Luise Adolpha Le Beau with an upcoming research trip to Berlin, Munich, and Karlsruhe in the spring of 2022. Noelle resides in Washington DC with her partner, Kevin, and her puppy Cashew. www.noellemcmurtry.com

Caroline Miller

Caroline Miller

co-creator (book, lyrics), Producer & Director

Caroline Miller is an innovative and theatrical singer, director and producer with a particular interest in telling womens’ stories through contemporary opera, operetta and film. With a BA in English Literature and Music from Washington University in St. Louis and an MM in Vocal Performance & Literature from Eastman School of Music, she employs an interdisciplinary approach to producing, writing and performing in music-theater works. In 2021, Caroline will also begin her tenure as a Teaching Artist with the Metropolitan Opera Guild.

In the 2019-2020 season, Caroline was a Resident Artist with Toledo Opera, appearing as Gretel in Hansel and Gretel vs the Witch, as well as the Plaintiff in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury.* In collaboration with St. Michael’s in the Hills and the Toledo Opera Resident Artists, she presented Nevertheless, We Persist, a virtual concert which explores the positive and negative aspects of operatic depictions of women and their stories throughout history. Nevertheless, We Persist was also featured virtually on Momentum, a Toledo-based arts festival. In the 2020-2021 season, Caroline will return as Valencienne in Franz Lehár’s The Merry Widow.* She also appears on the only contemporary professional recording of Sigmund Romberg’s Blossom Time, produced by Albany Records. Opera News lauded her portrayal of Bellabruna, writing “Miller projects all the confident insouciance of a pampered prima donna.”

Caroline is Co-Founder & Artistic Director of The Pleiades Project. She starred in the short-film Così, excerpted from W.A. Mozart’s Così fan tutte, which was named an official selection of the NY Indie Theatre Film Festival. Caroline directed the entirety of the 24|Series, produced the short opera film Ophélie, excerpted from Ambroise Thomas’s Hamlet, as well as created and directed the short film mini-series German Romantics in collaboration with DC-based opera company IN Series for their new virtual platform INVISION.

Since 2018, Caroline has trained in the circus and aerial arts, which she has recently incorporated into her film and performance work. With collaborator Erin Garber-Pearson, a Toledo-based circus artist and welder, she has created Aber, a short film combining aerial dance with a live performance of “Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit” from Johannes Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem, which was an official selection of the International Circus Film Festival. www.carolinemillersoprano.com

*cancelled and/or rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Anneliesa Trethewey

Anneliesa Trethewey

Music director, pianist

Anneliesa Trethewey is a versatile classically trained pianist, and music director. She teaches and performs in many genres: classical; musical theatre; jazz; gospel; and popular music from all eras. Anneliesa’s career as a pianist has given her many opportunities to perform and highlight her love for all music. Anneliesa received her Bachelor’s Degree in Piano Performance from Florida Atlantic University (FAU) and also performed as lead pianist for the FAU Jazz Orchestra. Anneliesa graduated from the Manhattan School of Music (MSM) in New York City with a Master of Music in Collaborative Piano for vocals. During her classical piano training at MSM, she was a student in the studio of Professor Thomas Muraco who in addition to many years of academia worked with Leonard Bernstein. Anneliesa also furthered her training in accompanying Italian, German, French and musical theatre lessons/classes which she provided for her fellow colleagues. Anneliesa has performed and music directed musical theater shows in the South Florida area. She music directed: Peter and the Star Catcher; Oklahoma; Rocky Horror Picture Show; How to Succeed in Business; and Damn Yankees. Anneliesa has also directed children’s musical theater plays: Matilda, Shrek, Aladdin, and the Adams Family. Anneliesa has privately taught piano students for many years. She is currently a piano instructor in New York City with Music To Your Home, the accompanist for the opera company City Artist Corps, and an accompanist and vocal coach in opera and musical theater. 

 

Sequoia Sellinger

Sequoia Sellinger

Arranger

(she/her/hers) is a Queens based composer, and collaborative theater artist. She is invested in new work that functions as a vehicle to reimagine the possibilities of what the world could be. She is a member of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop, New Dramatists Composer Librettist Studio, Maestra and the Dramatists Guild. Recent works include: Impossible Green (The York Theatre), Silent Springs (BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop), Recipe for a Sellout (The Wild Project), and Gravity of Me Gone (Ars Nova). Follow her at www.sequoiasellinger.com

Olga Turka

Olga Turka

Costume designer

Olga Turka is a maximalist and creative who wears multiple hats in the industry: Costume Designer, Production/Set Designer, Wardrobe Stylist, and Creative Director of films, commercials, editorials and theatre. She has a lifelong curiosity and borderline obsession for treasure hunting, storytelling and creating characters and worlds, with a detailed emphasis on celebrating  individual idiosyncrasies. If you added the Golden Girls, John Waters, Tim Burton, Pee-Wee Herman, Dolly Parton and Turner Classic Movies together, and peppered it with Coming to America, you’d find her dream aesthetic.

Amanda Miryem-Khaye Seigel

Amanda Miryem-Khaye Seigel

Yiddish translator and consultant

Amanda (Miryem-Khaye) Seigel (Yiddish Translator and Consultant) is a Yiddish singer, songwriter, recording artist, actor, and researcher in Yiddish theater and song. She is co-editor of the forthcoming book, Women on the Yiddish Stage (Legenda, 2022) and of the Digital Yiddish Theatre Project. She has performed throughout the United States and internationally, frequently appearing with Shane Baker (Royter Kuter Teater), Hankus Netsky‘s Hebrew National Salvage, and with many other luminaries of the Yiddish and klezmer scene. Toyznt tamen = A thousand flavors (2015) is her first solo album. She received a 2016 Folks Arts Apprenticeship to study with master Yiddish song teacher and songwriter Joshua Waletzky, sponsored by the New York State Council of the Arts / Center for Traditional Music and Dance. Visit amks.bandcamp.com

Alexis Silver

Alexis Silver

Choreographer

ALEXIS SILVER is a New York City based dancer and choreographer. She joined The New York Baroque Dance Company in 2010, and has toured the US and abroad, performing in Baroque dance reconstructions and historically informed opera productions of Handel’s Teseo at the International Handel Festival in Göttingen, Germany, Festival de Música Antigua Esteban Salas in Havana, Cuba, in Rameau’s Le Temple de la Gloire with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, among many others. Alexis also performs as a member of the Boston Early Music Festival Dance Company where she danced in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Charpentier’s La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers and La Couronne de Fleur, Handel’s Almira, Campra’s Le Carnaval de Venise, and Steffani’s Orlando. Alexis choreographed the modern day premiere of Lully’s La Chûte de Phaëton and Mozart’s The Magic Flute at the Aquilon Music Festival and has presented her choreography on numerous occasions at the Washington National Cathedral. Additionally, she performs with Balam Dance Theater, Sarah Skaggs, Marie Carstens, and Becky Radway. Born in Copenhagen, Denmark, she grew up in Berkeley, CA and Boston, MA. She trained with Ronn Guidi’s Oakland Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet School, Marcus Schulkind, and Nordic Baroque Dance Company’s International Summer Academy. Alexis is also an accomplished photographer, www.asilverphotography.com. She earned a B.A. in Liberal Arts from Sarah Lawrence College and a Certificate of Higher Education London Contemporary Dance School.   

Jonathan Randell Silver

Jonathan Randell Silver

Magic Consultant

Jonathan Randell Silver is an actor/magician living and working in NYC. Film and TV credits include: Keeping the FaithJackDear JohnRoverChange In The AirThe Knick (Cinemax); Bored To Death (HBO); Royal Pains (USA); Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon). Recent Off-Broadway and Regional Theatre credits include shows at New World Stages, The Davenport, Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Pearl, Labyrinth, Denver Center Theatre, ART, Westport Playhouse, Long Wharf Theatre, Williamstown, Charles Playhouse. Proud artistic member of the Ensemble Studio Theatre. Jonathan received his BA from Drew University and a certificate of higher education from LAMDA.

Listen to a song

The Clown

from Three Songs (1913)

Elizabeth Van Os, soprano
Eric Sedgwick, piano

Composed by Ethel Mary Smyth (1858-1944)
Poetry by Maurice Baring (1874-1945)

There was once a poor clown all dressed in white,

 In a dungeon, chained to the bars; 

And he danced all day, and he danced all night, 

  To the sound of the dancing stars.

“O clown, silly clown, O why do you dance?

You know you can never be free.

You are tied by the leg to the strings of chance,

But you dance like captive flea.”

“My chain is heavy, my dungeon is dark, 

  I know I can never be free. 

In my heart, in my heart there’s a dancing spark, 

  And the stars make music for me.

“Oh! muffle my cell and rivet my chains, 

  And fetter my feet and my hands, 

My soul is a horse of foam without reins. 

  That dances on deathless sands.”

Ethel Mary Smyth (1858-1944) was an influential English composer, writer, and suffrage activist, who composed within a variety of musical forms, including song, chamber, orchestral, choral, and opera. Against her family’s wishes, she traveled to Germany in 1877, studying composition in Leipzig with Carl Reinecke and Heinrich von Herzogenberg. Through von Herzogenberg, Smyth encountered composers Johannes Brahms, Antonín Dvořák, Clara Schumman, Edvard Grieg, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, and their subsequent musical works. For the following decade, Smyth’s own compositional style was heavily influenced by her experiences in Germany and her travels throughout Europe.

After her return to England in 1890, Smyth joined the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), considered the more “militant” arm of the British women’s suffrage movement. Smyth befriended Emmeline Pankhurst, the leader of the WSPU, and in 1911, she composed “The March of the Women,” an anthem later adopted by the women’s suffrage movements in both the United Kingdom and the United States. For two years, from 1910 to 1912, Smyth ceased to compose, instead devoting her time and energy to her work with the WSPU. In 1912, Smyth was jailed in Holloway Prison for throwing rocks through the office window of Secretary of State for the Colonies, Lewis Harcourt, an avowed anti-suffragist.

In 1913, after this self-imposed compositional hiatus, Smyth composed her first musical work, Three Songs. The first song in this collection, “The Clown” with poetry by Maurice Baring (1874-1945), evokes the heart-rending image of a clown, dressed in white, who is locked and chained in a dungeon cell, an ironic detail mirroring Smyth’s recent release from prison. Despite the clown’s imprisonment and blunt acknowledgment that “I can never be free,” he dances ceaselessly “to the sound of the dancing stars.” The clown boldly asserts that his heart and soul cannot be controlled by circumstance. Even in the most hopeless of states, he is sustained by the joy and purpose housed deeply within himself, a potential apt metaphor for Smyth’s assertion to persist in her suffrage activism despite political setbacks and public scorn. Women in the United Kingdom did not win the vote until 1928.

Sisters of the world, let’s gather our power, and shock the men who belittle us by saying, ‘What can women do’?

from an issue of “The New Real Woman's Society”, published by Kimura Komako