‘A Single Woman’ honors American feminist and pacifist Jeanette Rankin | TheUnion.com

‘A Single Woman’ honors American feminist and pacifist Jeanette Rankin

She was the first woman to be elected to Congress, even before women had the right to vote, making her the first woman elected to a national legislature in any western democracy. And in 1941 she was the only representative in Congress to vote against U.S. entry into both World Wars. In other words, she had the courage to go against the strong currents of her day.

She’s Jeanette Rankin, and a play about her, “A Single Woman,” returns to the Grass Valley Banner Grange on Feb. 6.

The play was written by Nevada Shakespeare Company founding artistic director Jeanmarie Simpson, who is also cast as Jeannette Rankin. Simpson portrays Rankin from her Montana childhood during the 1880s to her last television interview in 1972.

The second character on stage, “Everyman,” is played by Cameron Crain who also directs the play. “Everyman” depicts such notables as Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, Harry Truman, Fiorello LaGuardia, and Coretta Scott King.

“I saw ‘A Single Woman’ last year,” says Corrie Upham, “and was simultaneously captivated and deeply moved. Simpson’s dramatization of Jeannette Rankin delivers an indelible image of one woman’s struggle for peace, and a better world. It opened opened my mind and heart.”

Theater critic of the Sacramento News and Review, Jeff Hudson, had this to say about the show: “…The play is a favorable portrait of a fascinating personality, but it doesn’t gloss over Rankin’s thornier dilemmas: What about Adolf Hitler’s Holocaust and the Japanese army’s barbarism in China? The show will find a sympathetic audience among long-suffering, peace-minded lefties… However, Rankin emerges as such a gutsy, charming and independent presence that moderates, conservatives and political independents will enjoy her, as well… Seek it out, and soon! It’s well worth the effort.”

In 1968, she led more than 5,000 women in a protest in Washington, DC, demanding the U.S. withdraw from Vietnam, heading up the group calling itself the Jeannette Rankin Brigade. She remained a lobbyist for peace and women’s rights until her death in 1973 in Carmel.

The performance is sponsored by the Alliance for the Season for Nonviolence task force.

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