MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — MTSU’s celebration of National Women’s History Month will conclude with a dozen dynamic women onstage to demand their rightful place in the annals of Rutherford County.
“Party of Twelve,” a play written by Mary Donnet Johnson, is slated for performances at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 9, and 3 p.m. Sunday, April 10, at Washington Theatre at Patterson Park, 521 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Murfreesboro.
The original play was commissioned by the Rutherford Arts Alliance and underwritten by Pinnacle. In the play, a 21st century MTSU history student tries to stay awake to finish an assignment. However, she nods off and dreams of various important women from Rutherford County’s past.
Johnson earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. She has acted in numerous film, television, stage, radio and opera productions in New York and throughout the country.
“The playwright, Mary Donnet Johnson, has done a tremendous job bringing the histories of local women alive with humor and poignancy,” said Antoinette Van Zelm, assistant director of the Center for Historic Preservation and co-historian with MTSU alumna Mary R. Patterson Watkins on the “Leading Ladies of Rutherford County History” project.
“For our community to rally around a play focused entirely on the contributions and achievements of women from our past is really exciting,” Van Zelm said. “Hopefully, the play will inspire people to learn more about the many fascinating women in Rutherford County’s past.”
“Leading Ladies of Rutherford County History,” of which “Party of Twelve” is one segment, is a project developed in 2019-2020 to honor women who have educated, enlightened and inspired generations of Rutherford countians. Several of these women are characters in the play.
Some of the “leading ladies” include MTSU chemistry professor June Anderson, whose name adorns the June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students; Ruth Bowdoin, the first dean of education at MTSU; and Mary Scales, MTSU’s first Black faculty member and the first Black woman elected to the Murfreesboro City Council.
Several MTSU women are instrumental in the production. They include MTSU Foundation Board member Andrea Loughry, the play’s executive producer. Assistant stage managers V. Taylor Davis and Jeanna Perez are MTSU graduates, as is stage manager and assistant director Jenysa Donzelle.
Alumna Katlyn Marion portrays Olivia, the drowsy history student, and graduate Mileah Milstead plays Willie Betty Newman, one of the “leading ladies” whom Olivia encounters in her dreams.
General admission tickets for these two performances are $10 each. Group discounts of $2 each will apply to groups of 10 or more. To purchase or reserve tickets, go to The Center for the Arts website at tinyurl.com/yckufj46. Find out more about “Leading Ladies of Rutherford County” at leadingladiesrutherford.com.