The Plainsboro Public Library will celebrate women’s history month on Sunday, March 19 when actress Michele LaRue presents a satiric anti-suffrage monologue, called “Someone Must Wash the Dishes.” The event starts at 2 p.m.
Written in 1912 by suffragist Marie Jenney Howe, the monologue parodies arguments against the vote for women. The arguments—based on stereotypes of female dependence, irrationality and delicacy—were common during the early 1900s, before women won the right to vote in 1920.
An example from Howe’s monologue: “Ladies, get what you want. Pound pillows. Make a scene. Make home a hell on earth—but do it in a womanly way. That is so much more dignified and refined than walking up to a ballot box and dropping in a piece of paper.”
LaRue is a professional actress, based in New Jersey, who tours nationally. She has a repertoire of at least 30 titles by writers of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, which she has dubbed “Tales Well Told.”
Her fully-costumed performance of “Someone Must Wash the Dishes” lasts about 25 minutes and will be followed by a question-and-answer session.
LaRue premiered the monologue in New York in March 1994. That performance was directed by her late husband Warren Kliewer, whose interest in plays and stories of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, sparked her own career as an interpreter of that literature.
“Even though it is well over 100 years old, the people it portrays are the same people we are,” says Larue of her material. “Technologies and fashions change, but basic needs and emotions persist.”
LaRue says she does not consider herself a feminist, but adds that reading women’s history has impressed upon her “where we came from, how far we’ve traveled and how many nameless, forgotten women brought us here.”
She has performed “Tales Well Told” at libraries, museums and historical societies, colleges and universities, women’s clubs and associations, adult communities and theater companies. She has even brought the “Tales” to military bases, where, she points out, many women are dependents.
The program is funded by the Horizons Speakers Bureau of the NJ Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and is produced by the American Historical Theater.
The Plainsboro Library is located at 9 Van Doren Street, Plainsboro. Phone: (609) 275-2897.