Performing History - Women and the Vote

By: Molly Hood   Amanda J. Nelson  

The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment granting women in the U.S. the right to vote. The anniversary provides an opportunity to focus attention on women’s history, and to promote meaningful civic engagement through active and integrated learning experiences. Theatre faculty from two U.S. universities have collaborated on the creation of a new experiential course, “Performing History,” to promote civic engagement through innovative performance and classroom practices. Simultaneously offered at both universities in Spring 2020, the classes will meet at the same time, allowing students to collaborate and create via the cloud. In addition to web-based collaboration, students will rehearse and publicly perform together in a historical home. Performance, steeped in script analysis and theatre history, provides a platform for students to delve into an active exploration of the politics of performance. In the course, students will rehearse selected texts from suffrage plays, songs, and speeches, working together to devise a theatrical work. While historical in nature, the course connects gender and race issues of the past to the current socio-political climate, including the “Me Too” movement and voting rights. In addition to their immersive history performance, students will work to engage in civic activities in their communities. A case study of the creation and implementation of “Performing History,” this paper presents a framework that could serve as a model for other multi-institutional curricular collaborations between institutions interested in exploring historical moments, important to their own communities, through traditional and immersive performance techniques.

Arts Education, Performance Studies, Multiliteracies, Perception, Affect, Self-Inquiry, Arts Pedagogies
Arts Education
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Prof. Molly Hood

Assistant Professor, Theatre and Cinema, Radford University

Molly Hood is an Assistant Professor at Radford University in Radford, Virginia. Prior to joining the faculty at RU, she taught at Hampden-Sydney College. She continues to work as an actress, text coach, and director. As a member of the Performance faculty at RU, she teaches Acting I, Acting Shakespeare, Auditioning, Voice & Movement, and Advanced Movement. Areas of acadmic interest include: jogs/totentanz, stage combat, and theatrical intimacy. Directing credits include: The Tragedy of Macbeth, Crimes of the Heart (RU), Twelfth Night, The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Richmond Shakespeare Festival), Buffalo Soldier (Virginia Rep on Tour), and Funny Money (H-SC). As an actress, Molly appeared at the Richmond Shakespeare Festival and on PBS as the title role in Quill Theatre's groundbreaking production of Hamlet (RTCC Best Actress nomination). Additional acting credits include Arianna in The Comedy of Errors (RTCC Best Supporting Actress Award Winner), Regan in King Lear, Nerissa in The Merchant of Venice, Carol in Oleanna (RTCC Best Supporting Actress nomination), and Melissa in Melissa Arctic.

Dr. Amanda J. Nelson

Associate Professor, Theatre & Director, MFA Arts Leadership, School of Performing Arts, Theatre, Virginia Tech

Amanda Nelson, PhD: Dr. Nelson joined the Theatre faculty at Virginia Tech in the fall of 2013 to create and establish a new MFA in Arts Leadership program. She previously worked 11 years for the world-renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City, where she oversaw membership programs, government relations, corporate sponsorships, and foundation support. Prior to joining Ailey, she worked in marketing and educational outreach. At IBM, she was part of a web marketing team; at the non-profit Girls Incorporated, she designed and implemented arts programs for inner-city youth; and at Young Audiences of the Bay Area, she worked in outreach and marketing. She holds a PhD in Drama from Tufts University, an MA in Drama from San Francisco State University, and a BA in Drama from the University of California at Irvine. She now teaches a range of theatre and arts courses, including acting, arts leadership, arts advocacy, arts marketing, development, strategic management, and human resources in the arts. Through a collaboration with a colleague in music, Amanda developed a musical theatre summer intensive course and has directed several workshop productions including "Babes in Arms," "Oh, Kay!," and "Fiorello!" for the Blacksburg Summer Arts Festival. She has begun to explore the intersection of theatre and technology, developing multidisciplinary performance projects that mix traditional theatre texts with new media, including spatial audio, video projections, and virtual reality. Amanda has written on a range of theatre topics, regularly presents at conferences, and is a freelance theatre reviewer for “The Roanoke Times.”