Written by Bryan Colley and Tara Varney
Meet the women who persisted for over seventy years to add four words to the Constitution: “On Account of Sex.” Seven leaders of the women’s suffrage movement relate their struggles, failures, and triumphs, beginning with the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention and ending with the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, when women won the right to vote. This unconventional exploration of women’s history is filled with humor, inspiration, and songs of the 19th and early 20th century.
Production Info
The cast requires four women. The running time is approximately 75 minutes, but can be trimmed to 60 minutes. Suitable for all ages, and ideal for middle/high school audiences. Performance royalties are negotiable.
Premiere performance July 21-30, 2023 at the KC Fringe Festival. Starring Claudia Copping, Caroline Dawson, Rita Hanch, and Dianna Royer. Music arranged by Tim Gillespie and performed by Tim Gillespie and Sandy Weidman. Directed by Tara Varney. Winner "BEST MADE IN KC" and Best of Fringe.
Online Reading July 18-August 1, 2022 at the KC Fringe Festival Virtual Fringe. Starring  Amy Hurrelbrink, Marcie Ramirez, Stefanie Stevens, and Shelley Clark Wyche. Directed by Tara Varney.
The 19th Amendment states, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” It took seventy years of constant and challenging activism to give women the right to vote throughout the United States.
The play follows seven leading figures in the suffrage movement: Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton,  Lucy Stone, Carrie Chapman Catt, Harriot Stanton Blatch, Alice Stone Blackwell, and Alice Paul. These women traversed the country and led national campaigns to win voting rights in the states, and the play highlights their efforts to win legal battles, challenge naysayers, and pass the torch to the next generation. When they ultimately confront the president of the United States, they are faced with abuse, imprisonment, and forced feedings until they are finally triumphant in passing an amendment.
Throughout the play there are period songs that bring the era to life, many of them popular tunes of the day with lyrics tailored to the suffrage cause, and many of them quite humorous. These include “The March of the Women,” “Let Us All Speak Our Minds,” “Daughters of Freedom,” “Keep Women in Her Sphere,” and “Song of the Harassed Man Voter.”
“On Account of Sex.” was originally intended to be produced in 2020 for the 100th Anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, but the live Fringe Festival was canceled due to the pandemic. An online reading of the play was recorded for the August 18, 2020 anniversary of the amendment, and we’re excited to finally be able to produce the full production live on stage as intended.
“On Account of Sex” is perhaps one of the most well-researched and cleverly written Fringe shows I have ever seen. Taking its title from the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote, the performance is a feminist history lesson delivered as postmodern vaudeville. Four performers accompanied by keyboard and tuba relay the trials and tribulations of the early Suffragettes in the long and arduous passage of this amendment through innovative staging, crafty character creation, and an elan for political entertainment. This show is suitable for middle school audiences and up and especially of interest to history buffs. You will heartily laugh (and learn) throughout.
Politics, generally speaking, often walks the exasperating line of being both extremely important and infuriatingly tedious. That dichotomy is the entire foundation of On Account of Sex, which traces the seventy-year-long fight to gain women the right to vote. No one could possibly deny that this battle was of the utmost importance—least of all the women at its center. At the same time, we can share the frustration at the tedious bureaucracy they were up against. The women are forced to deal with nit-picking semantics and political practices (lobbying, votes, and the like) that move at an extreme crawl.
Creative, engaging, informative, and eye opening. I highly recommend taking teens and young adults!
I did not expect this historical account to be so entertaining and engaging! I thought I knew the history of women’s fight to get the vote, but I learned so much, and had the conflicting factions, I’d barely heard about, explained so clearly. Really good!
What a fantastic production! We all need to know our history and this is an inventive, clever and fun lesson! Everyone will enjoy it! So go watch it!! We have more to do with the passage of the ERA!
Very well done. Talented actors and singers helped make this section of history easy to understand and empathize with the struggles they persisted through.
SO enjoyed this clever and informative production. All history should be taught this way. Learned so much and fun besides. Loved that one character was “Naysayer”!! I rate this a must see 5+.
This show was AWESOME! The music was so great and well preformed. It was funny, and educational, with the little dash of realism that hits you in the gut. Seeing how hard the fight to vote was for women and people of color really puts into perspective the real battles we continue to fight in regards to civil rights. I recommend this show a million times over!
Great music and script. We had fun and learned quite a bit, too. Thanks for a fun, informative, heartfelt show.
Wonderfully done lesson on history that anyone could understand and stay with fully. As a teacher, I’m very impressed. The set up for the women to be different people, the music to be integrated so well, the timeline so appropriately added, and the energy from all the women all added up to a wonderful time of learning, feeling sad for the last 100 years, and energized to do something about that. Thank you.
I know this is the best performance I’ve “Fringed” so far this year … and, frankly, think it may be one of the best I’ve ever seen. Great job people. Thank you for sharing your talent!
Educational. Powerful. Energetic.
High energy, excellent script, great show for a fringe fest venue.
This is the original reading of the play that we recorded on Zoom for the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment on August 18, 2020.
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