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Laurie James - actor/writer

View the
Men, Women and Margaret Fuller Promo

View the
Winter Wheat Trailer

Two Original Solo Dramas
Two Forgotten Stories of Great Women

Written and Performed by Laurie James (Winner, The UUWF Margaret Fuller Award*)
Touring Theatres, Conference sites, Chautauquas, Libraries and other Venues

Adaptable to various facilities, time spans and audience interests

MEN, WOMEN, AND MARGARET
FULLER

WINTER WHEAT 0

The Battleground of a Woman
of Mind, Heart, and Vision

Based on Fuller's letters, diaries, articles and books

The Betrayal of Elizabeth Cady Stanton
and her Woman's Bible

Based on Stanton's words, records and her Woman's Bible

"I assure you, Laurie, that I was impressed by the confidence of your acting - its many thoughtfully planned stages - with the fact that you are a powerfully courageous and brilliant individual struggling in the pre-dawn of terrestrial accord to women, of all the freedoms heretofore historically staked out for men."
- Buckminster Fuller, Great Grand Nephew of Margaret Fuller

"Had she possessed the privileges of a man, her fame would have been world wide and she would have been the greatest person of her time."
- Susan B. Anthony, 1896

ABOUT

Laurie James brings to life the radical and controversial Margaret Fuller in all her wit and intellect from childhood to final tragedy. Acknowledged as being the most brilliant woman in America, Fuller was as well known throughout the English-speaking world during the 1840s as Gloria Steinem is today.

In a century when feminine strength was regarded as best when focused domestically, Fuller took up her quill pen and shouted, “Let them (women) be sea captains, if they will!” Her book, Woman in the Nineteenth Century, has influenced thousands, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton and 21st century contemporaries. It laid the groundwork for the women’s rights revolution in America.

More than a story of a life of extraordinary accomplishment, hers is a great soul to be emulated, a determination to grow, a courageous demand to speak for truth, a struggle to develop the mind, a boldness to overcome obstacles, a bravado to break with tradition, a power and spirit to envision beyond the ordinary, universally.

This original dramatic solo presentation has fascinated hundreds of audiences, large and small, for years. It has been performed in theatres in New York, Los Angeles, Edinburgh, Hong Kong, Mexico as well as toured in the Great Plains Chautauqua and in colleges, libraries, churches and other venues.

ABOUT

Laurie James plays Stanton during the brilliancy of her 80s when she wrote she was considered "one of the great heretics, beginning with the radical reformer Jesus." During these years, 1887-1902, Stanton and Anthony argued heatedly, and public antagonism reached its zenith. Stanton persisted in organizing a committee of women scholars to examine the bible and to write commentaries on the portions that viewed women negatively and excluded them. When her Woman’s Bible was published in 1895, organizations, libraries, schools, ministers, and Christians denounced and threw it out as heresy. The controversy led to a break-up with Stanton's 40-year friendship with Susan B. Anthony and the women's rights movement, culminating in Stanton's marginalization in history.

Another story forgotten - perhaps more timely now than a century ago!

THE MARGARET FULLER STORY

Fuller is acknowledged as having been the most brilliant woman in America. Radical and controversial in her day and age, she was a world celebrity in the 1840s as well known as Gloria Steinem is today.

She should be remembered not only as our foremother, but also as first American to write a book about women’s equality. She laid the groundwork for the women’s rights movement in the United States.

Yet at least one contemporary scholar suggests that it is up to future generations to decide whether or not she is to be remembered. READ MORE...

Note: See a Timeline and Bibliography on the Margaret Fuller 2010 Bicentennial Celebration page.

PRELUDE TO “WINTER WHEAT”

The Woman’s Bible places Stanton as the first woman to launch a woman’s perspective of the book and it credits the committee of authors as foremothers of feminist theology. Nevertheless, Stanton’s work on The Woman’s Bible is rarely acknowledged. As Stanton recorded in her autobiography, “I especially desired to have the opinions of women from all sects, but those belonging to the orthodox churches declined to join the committee or express their views. Perhaps they feared their faith might be disturbed by the strong light of investigation.”

Stanton ended up writing and editing over two-thirds of the commentaries herself. Those who participated were religious liberals outside the mainstream. While critics denounced it, The Woman’s Bible went through seven printings in six months and was translated into several foreign languages. READ MORE...

Who Was Margaret Fuller?
Radical Intellect - 1810-1850

  • First American to write a book on equality for women
  • First professional war correspondent / served under combat conditions / set standards for later war correspondents
  • First woman journalist on Horace Greeley's New York Daily Tribune
  • First woman literary critic / set literary standards
  • First editor, The Dial magazine
  • First to organize paid "Conversations" for women (educational "rap sessions")
  • First woman to enter Harvard library for research purposes - a giant step since colleges were closed to women



~ ~ ~

"Laurie James performance was excellent. Some students even said they might want to read something by Fuller!"
- Joel Myerson, Carolina Research Professor of American Literature, University of South Carolina

"Laurie James has done something truly wonderful in keeping the spirit of Margaret Fuller alive. She honors her subject's dynamic intellect and resolution to live a full life through an intoxicating blend of scholarship, drama and passionate polemic."
- Lisa Paul Streitfeld, Cultural Critic/Curator

"Laurie James' solo drama was a life changing experience for me, i.e., inspirational performance - renewal of interest in feminism, thirst for even more information about Fuller, Transcendentalism, and Laurie James. The energy generated by the performance spilled over into the reception. Smiling faces all around. Folks wanting to know more about acting, Margaret Fuller and the actress."
- Marjorie Gillies, Niagara Falls, NY

Who Was Elizabeth Cady Stanton?
Radical Activist - 1815-1902

  • First woman to launch a woman’s perspective of the Bible / foremother of feminist theology
  • First major strategist, organizer, lecturer in 72 year drive for women’s rights, publicly advocating the vote for women in her Declaration of Sentiments at the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls in 1848
  • First president and co-founder of National Woman’s Suffrage Association and National American Woman’s Suffrage Association / helped initiate International Council of Women
  • First woman permitted to speak in front of the New York State Legislature
  • Primary force behind the passage of the Woman’s Property Bill
  • Among the first co-authors of the six volume History of Women’s Suffrage
  • Among the first married women to keep her maiden name
  • Among the first to insist that the word “obey” be stricken from marriage ceremony

~ ~ ~

"I really did enjoy the show. A great way to make history come alive!"
- The Rev. Chris Buice, Knoxville, TN

"I loved your performance because it had to do with women's rights. We are studying the Suffrage unit in school right now, and your play helped me know many of the things. It was funny how Elizabeth Cady Stanton would eat the chocolate, and I noticed how much feeling Susan B. Anthony had. Good luck with your other performances!"
- Anna Benson, 11 years, Blacksburg, VA

"Laurie James's research and analysis made me more sensitive to what we are seeing today."
- Bo Boghani, President, UU Congregation of Greenville, SC

"Not only was “Winter Wheat” well received at our church, her sermon to us was direct and inspiring. Laurie was absolutely wonderful to work with arranging the tour and delightful to meet in person. Her message needs to be heard."
- Tom Clayton, Vice President, UU Church of Greensboro, NC

*The Margaret Fuller Award is a grant for women sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Women’s Federation (UUWF). James wrote and directed her play "A Medley for Margaret Fuller" for the Margaret Fuller 2010 Bicentennial Celebration. Information and photos on the Bicentennial page.
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