ITHACA, N.Y.—At 7:30 p.m. EDT on Friday, Oct. 16, the Hangar Theatre Company will present the virtual presentation, “The Inferior Sex,” by Jacqueline E. Lawton, directed by Cynthia Henderson. Without the possibility of live events at the theatre this fall due to COVID-19, the Hangar offers additional off-season virtual programming to continue carrying out their mission while sharing meaningful and resonant stories with the community.
The Inferior Sex takes place in the summer of 1972. While Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm campaigns to become the first Black female president, eight inspired women come together to create a new magazine for “feminists who love fashion.” But in the charged era of Vietnam and Watergate, cross-currents of race and politics challenge their friendships as well as the magazine’s very survival. “The Inferior Sex” provides timely and humorous insight to what it means to find your politics, find your community, and ultimately find your voice, in an ever-changing world.
The show features Hangar alums including former members of the Lab Company, the Hangar’s training program for young professional theatre artists. The actors will all be acting individually from their homes. Adara Alston is featured as Shirley Chisholm. Alston last appeared in the first Hangar Theatre virtual production “The Skin Of Our Teeth.” Alston states, “I’m excited to portray political icon and hero, Shirley Chisholm, and I feel this piece is topical and timely as we enter the last weeks prior to the pivotal 2020 presidential election…As a theatre artist, I’d prefer to be on a stage with a live audience, but I’m so grateful for creative spaces that allow for performance and an outlet for expression, even in a virtual setting.”
Playwright Jaqueline E. Lawton is a playwright, dramaturg, producer, educator and advocate for access, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the American Theatre. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Dramatic Art at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Resident Dramaturg at PlayMakers Repertory, also in Chapel Hill. She received her MFA in Playwriting from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a James A. Michener Fellow. Lawton is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships; was a participant in the Kennedy Center’s Playwrights’ Intensive (2002) and The World Interplay Festival in Australia (2003); is a 2012 Theatre Communications Group (TCG) Young Leaders of Color award recipient and an alumna of National New Play Network (NNPN), Center Stage’s Playwrights’ Collective, and Arena Stage’s Playwright’s Arena; and was named one of 30 of the nation’s leading black playwrights by Arena Stage’s American Voices New Play Institute. She has written over a dozen plays including a new adaptation of “The Wizard Of Oz,” which was part of the Hangar’s original 2020 KIDDSTUFF lineup. The Hangar was not able to produce this after making the decision to go fully virtual due to COVID-19 safety recommendations, but hopes to produce it live next summer. Shirley Serotsky, Associate Artistic Director/Education Director at the Hangar Theatre, directed Lawton’s The Hampton Years at Theater J in Washington, DC in 2013.
Lawton state, “I began writing this play in the wake of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. As cities across the world prepared for the second Women’s March, I kept thinking about the Equal Rights Amendment, which would guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex. While it passed in 1972, it did not reach the 38 state threshold required for ratification. However, in January of this year, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the long-contested amendment. It will now take a lawsuit in order for the Equal Rights Amendment to become the law of the land. Still, it’s amazing to think that the global focus on anti-sexual assault and women’s empowerment could lead to immediate, lasting, and comprehensive social and political change.”
Directing the show is Cyntha Henderson, who most recently starred as Mrs. Antrobus in the Hangar Theatre’s summer 2020 virtual production, The Skin Of Our Teeth. Cynthia is a Professor of Acting Training in Ithaca College’s Department of Theatre Arts; she recently became the first African American faculty member promoted to the rank of full professor at IC. A professional actor since 1985 in the U.S., Europe, and Africa, Cynthia has performed on stage as well as in film and television. She is the founder of Performing Arts for Social Change. Her work in the area of social justice has earned her the CSPA of New York State’s award for “Outstanding Contribution to Social Justice.” She was also cited at the 2008 NYS Women’s Expo as one the “20 Outstanding Women You Should Know” in Central NY. Cynthia is a proud member of Actors’ Equity and a Fulbright Scholar.
The production and design team includes Costume Coordinator Jordan Hermitt, Sound Designer Jeremiah Turner, Video Designer/ Producer Kaede Kogo, Stage Managers Egypt Dixon and Lydia Oquendo, and Assistant Stage Managers Thomas Bertron and Emy Herrera, and Production Manager Adam Zonder.
Shirley Chisholm……………Adara Alston
Connie…………Dionne M. Robinson
The Hangar thanks Partners in Flight CFCU Community Credit Union and Cayuga Radio Group, and Partner in the Arts Ithaca College. Following the production is a talk-back with cast and crew. The next show in the Hangar’s off-season is Dear Hope by Joy Peskin, a free virtual play on November 1.
Virtual tickets ($15 each) are available at 607.273.ARTS and hangartheatre.org.
Patrons can get free access with the purchase of a summer 2021 EarlyBird Subscription! This is a one time only, live event, but ticket holders can watch through the following Monday.
For more information please call (607) 273-2787, or visit hangartheatre.org.