State of Washington Suffragists Focus of March 31 Play

PULLMAN, Wash. — “May’s Vote,” a short play staring Seattle actors Barbara Callander and Toni Douglass, will be presented 7 p.m. March 31, in Washington State University’s Bryan Hall auditorium.
The program is presented by the WSU Department of History, the Women’s Studies Program and the YWCA of WSU. It is open to the public without charge.
Written by Douglass, the play dramatizes the little-known story of Emma Smith DeVoe, who lived in Tacoma, and May Arkwright Hutton, who lived in Spokane and Wallace, Idaho. They were suffragists instrumental in winning the vote for women in the state of Washington in 1910. Although working together, they seldom agreed on the best way to achieve their goal.
According to Janice Rutherford, a WSU history faculty member, the state of Washington granted suffrage to women a full decade before the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920. It was not the only progressive state in this regard; by 1920, women could already vote in several western states including Oregon, Montana, California, Nevada, Wyoming and Arizona.
The play presents DeVoe and Hutton from their respective childhoods through a “noisy public struggle that ended with success in 1910 and demonstrates that we do not always have to agree in order to achieve a common goal,” according to information from the Washington Commission for the Humanities, program sponsor.
Douglass is an established director, playwright and teacher. According to event organizers, she is the only playwright in Washington history whose work has been included in a state gubernatorial inaugural. Currently a Seattle Children’s Theater Drama School faculty member, she has acted in theaters throughout the western United States. Callander has appeared in theaters nationally, has taught classes and workshops for arts organizations and worked extensively as an arts administrator.
The commission — sponsoring the program through Inquiring Mind: A Forum in the Humanities — is an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting public programs in the humanities throughout the state of Washington.