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Lives of Two Alabama Activists to be Dramatized at Samford

Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2001-03-06

Huntsville actor/playwright Bette Yeager will celebrate the lives of two late Alabama activists when she presents Women Great of Heart at Samford University Monday, March 19, at 7:30 p.m. in Wright Center Recital Hall. The public is invited free of charge.

The play tells the story of Birmingham suffragist Pattie Ruffner Jacobs and University of Montevallo professor Hallie Farmer.

Jacobs was the wife of a Birmingham industrialist in the early 1900s. As president of the Alabama Equal Suffrage League, she lead more than 50 leagues around the state in the fight for votes for women. Jacobs died in 1939.

Farmer was a history and political science professor at Alabama College (now the University of Montevallo) in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. She taught her students to take an active role in government. She lobbied for prison reform, repeal of the poll tax, the establishment of a merit system, and a rewrite of the State Constitution of 1901. Farmer died in 1960.

The play puts a human face on the history of woman's suffrage. The play emphasizes historical battles now won, such as Jacobs' battle to win woman's suffrage and Farmer's fight to abolish the poll tax. It also gives attention to matters now current, such as Alabama's 1901 constitution.

Yeager is known to north Alabama theatre audiences for her award-winning performances in such plays as Crimes of the Heart, Noises Off, Steel Magnolias, Cloud 9 and Terra Nova. She has performed with Renaissance Theatre, Theatre 'Round the Corner and Theatre Huntsville. She has toured two one-woman shows: her own adaptation of Virginia Woolf's essay, A Room of One's Own, and Wiley Russell's Shirley Valentine.

Her production, Women Great of Heart, is supported in part by grants from the Alabama Humanities Foundation and the Alabama State Council on the Arts. In writing the play, she interviewed people who knew Farmer and Jacobs, including Jacobs' grandson, John Hillhouse of Birmingham.

The Samford performance is funded in part by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. For information, call the Samford English Department at (205) 726-2946.


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