On Wednesday, Women Take the Stage will invite people to celebrate the accomplishments of the suffrage movement and look ahead at the work still left to do.
Featuring the likes of Gloria Steinem, Lily Tomlin and Sweet Honey In The Rock, the virtual event celebrates the ratification of the 19th amendment, which granted women the right to vote,
“What we want to do is do something constructive and positive about things that are really in the public consciousness right now,” said Margie Rosenkranz, the director of The Eighth Step and one of the organizers of Women Take the Stage.
Kicking off at 9 p.m., the event will include performances and speeches from feminist leaders and musicians like The Chicks. Before that, at 7:30 p.m. there will be a pre-show at the Finger Lakes Drive-In Theatre in Auburn, featuring live performances by regional artists.
Women Take the Stage is organized by several groups, including Schenectady’s Eighth Step, which presents concerts and cultural events at Proctors.
“We canceled our spring shows, like everybody else, and it really made me go into a long search about who we need to be right now during this pandemic and with all this unrest in the country,” Rosenkranz said.
The Eighth Step has brought folk, bluegrass, jazz and more to the stage since 1967 when it started in Washington Park.
“We had started over in Albany against the backdrop of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Era and a lot of civil unrest. So the similarities are kind of interesting, but I realized that we’ve always kept that identity,” Rosenkranz said.
They’ve promoted cultural inclusivity and unity through their programming over the years, and when Rosenbranz heard about Women Take the Stage, she knew she wanted The Eighth Step to be involved.
“ . . . it’s to generate some excitement around voting and all the gains that we’ve made over the years and a look at the fact that we really do have a lot left to do. We do have a lot of distance left to go to be inclusive of all women and not just white women,” Rosenkranz said.
Women Take The Stage is less like a concert and more like a rally, with a mix of speeches and performances that will be broadcast on Facebook Live and YouTube. There are national celebrities on the lineup like Billie Jean King, Idina Menzel, Vanessa Williams, etc. But there are also performances by groups like DGLS, an a capella group of young singers, and BETTY, an indie-pop trio.
While planning virtual events is something that Rosenkranz has only recently delved into thanks to COVID-19, she expects she’ll be doing more of it in the future.
“We just did this with a virtual Clearwater Revival . . . and it was wonderful. You always worry about length but I think this is a parade of really inspiring people talking about voting, talking about the current situation for women, talking about where we need to go,” Rosenkranz said.
“It’s such a big event. It’s really exciting to have all these people in one place and see everybody at once.”
The pre-show will kick off at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday at the Finger Lakes Drive-In Theatre, 1064 Clark Street Road, Auburn. Attendees can expect live performances from regional musicians and poets, which will not be streamed live. Then, at 9 p.m. the Women Take The Stage event will be streamed at the theatre in Auburn. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the gate.
To view the main event from home for free, visit womentakethestage.org.