The Actors Studio of Newburyport Celebrates Three Women Ahead of Their Time

Thursday March 25, 2021

The Actors Studio of Newburyport’s series of events in celebration of Women’s HERstory Month culminates on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, March 26, 27, and 28, with a presentation titled Reclaiming Their Time – Three Iron Butterflies of the 19th and 20th Centuries. The presentation includes three dramatic monologues that explore the lives and legacies of three women who were considered to be ahead of her time. 

In the monologue Defying the Odds, playwright Deb Severo tells the story of Anne Lister, a 19th century adventurer, lesbian, and landowner who kept extensive journals throughout her life. Actress Shannon Muhs, who portrays Anne, notes, “Anne Lister was a rare, multi-layered person who lived her life honestly, bravely, and confidently and without apology. Reading her diary is truly fascinating. Her family largely supported her as well, which I find incredibly inspiring, given the time period (1791–1840). We should all be able to live our true selves, and Anne Lister did just that!”

I Have Seen it So, written by Judith Strang-Waldau, celebrates Matilda Joslyn Gage (1826-1898), who was a tireless advocate for the Native American people of upstate New York. She was also an activist for the rights of women. Kim Holliday, who brings Matilda to life, says, “I was drawn to Matilda’s respect for the Haudenshaunee culture, as well as her willingness to challenge organized religion (Christianity) as misogynistic. It is easy to forget that during her lifetime, European/American culture was considered to be superior in all ways. Matilda was extraordinary in that she rejected this notion, demonstrating unusual respect for and a willingness to learn from another culture.”

Portrait of a Radical, written by Leslie Powell, provides a glimpse into the life of 

Marie Louise Bottineau Baldwin (1863-1952), who was born to an Ojibwa/Chippewa mother and a French father. She was a prominent advocate for Native women and for Native Americans’ position in mainstream America. Dancer, actress, and artist Fontaine Dollas Dubus, who portrays Ms. Baldwin, says, “She was strong-willed, but she also worked with people in a unifying way. I wish I could have met such an outstanding woman who persevered against such adversity, when it came to rights for her gender and her people. It was an honor to play the role.”

All of the monologues were rehearsed and recorded live on stage at the Firehouse Center for the Arts. Sally Nutt, who directed the presentation, says, “I want to make note of the great support of John Moynihan, executive director of the Firehouse Center. The collaboration, the abundance of talent in the room, and the time and energy so generously given to this project were an inspiration. We also had the privilege of being the first to use their new camera and sound equipment to record the three monologues. It provided a huge leap in quality to this production!” Special thanks also go to John Budzyna for editing one of the pieces and to Josh Faigen for editing the final presentation.” 

Tickets for the presentation are $10, with donations also welcome. Visit the Actors Studio website,, to register and receive a link to the performance.

Friday, March 26, at 7:00 p.m., Saturday, March 27, as 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, March 28, at 5:00 p.m. From the comfort of your home via link. Admission is $10. Donations are also welcome.

Subscribe To Receive Our Newspaper Every Wednesday Morning FREE

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and newspaper within your emails.

You have Successfully Subscribed!