Theater for the New City Presents
about the first woman to run for president
Victoria Woodhulll ran for president in 1872, almost 50 years before women won the right to vote. She also became the first woman to own a Wall Street brokerage and the first woman to testify before a congressional committee, fighting for women's suffrage.
Yet as Hillary Clinton seeks to become the nation's first female president, few people know much about this key figure in American history- her struggles, successes and story.
Theater for the New City Executive Director Crystal Field and the Textile Co., an in-house group at the theater, are presenting "Victoria Woodhull," written by Claude Solnik and directed by Donna Mejia, for its New York City debut Nov. 17 through Dec. 4 at Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave., New York, NY.
While "Hamilton" seeks to bring history to Broadway, "Victoria Woodhull" seeks to bring one of the nation's more fascinating historic figures to the stage as well.
Woodhull became the first woman to run for president on what was known as the Equal Rights Party ticket with Frederick Douglass as her running mate.
She has largely been written out of the history books, an all but forgotten female footnote in our nation's history in a glaring omission that this production seeks to help remedy.
The play is particularly timely set against the backdrop of the current election, making America's "Victoria" once again a contemporary figure and American amnesia as to her role even more astonishing.
Con artist, spiritualist and eventually visionary presidential candidate, Woodhull (played by Elena Kritter) made her mark on our nation and on New York, where she lived much of her life.
"She was courageous," Solnik, a journalist and playwright, said. "When other leaders focused on the vote and the vote only, Victoria Woodhull also fought for better wages and education for women and even ran for president."
A native of Homer, Ohio, Woodhull moved to New York City with her father Buck (Chaz McCormack) and sister Tennie (Juliette Monaco) where they conducted a séance for Cornelius Vanderbilt (Ed Altman).
Woodhull soon found herself helping Vanderbilt make money with insider trading, before it was illegal.
Vanderbilt loaned her money to open a brokerage and publish a magazine, which she used to advance her agendas- which soon included attacking rail road barons and advocating for women's right to vote - and finally running for president.
The play tells the story of how Woodhull balanced politics and her personal life, including her husband Col. James Blood (Henrick Sawczak) and ex-husband Canning (Adam Reilly).
And it looks at how she worked with and sometimes fought with Suffragettes Susan B Anthony (Monica Bell), Elizabeth Cady Stanton (Collette Campbell) and Harried Beecher Stowe (Larissa Kruesi).
The show - with Alex Gustafson as assistant director -looks at one of the most daring political campaigns in American history, how the first female presidential candidate faced persecution, and, finally, prosecution, when she ran for president as opponents sought to silence her.
Woodhull ran her election campaign out of New York, where she lived, giving a pivotal speech at Cooper Union's Great Hall, just blocks from Theater for the New City, making this a New York story as well as a page torn from the nation's history.
Ed McGlynn plays a congressman who was part of the establishment that opposed her, leading a crusade against her and her campaign.
"She is truly America's Victoria," Donna Mejia, directing the play, said. "She led a remarkable life and I think audiences will be amazed to learn about all she did."
Women in the United States finally got the right to vote through the 19th Amendment in 1920, but Woodhull argued the 15th Amendment in 1870 already gave it to them - and called for it to be enforced.
"This show tries to show Victoria Woodhull's struggle and tell a story that's at once an important part of history and relevant today," Solnik said. "It's exciting and, we think, makes for good history and good theater as we watch a woman run for president even before women were allowed to vote."
"Victoria Woodhull" is being presented Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. and Sun at 3 p.m. Nov. 17 to Dec. 4 (except for Thanksgiving and the Friday after Thanksgiving), at Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave., New York, NY. Tickets are $18 and $15 for senior citizens and students at www.theaterforthenewcity.net or by calling the theater at 212-254-1109.