Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts continues its 25th consecutive season with The Agitators by Mat Smart and directed by Bill Taylor, opening Jan. 17 and playing through Jan. 27. The groundbreaking play by Mat Smart is a biographical account of the four-decade-long friendship between Frederick Douglass (played by Derek Lively) and Susan B. Anthony (played by Dena Galyean).
In a series of powerful vignettes set largely in the northeast, the 19th-century timeline of the play follows its characters through 45 years, starting from when they first met in the 1840s. The production faithfully demonstrates the demarcation line of wills that brought these two forces of nature together, when race and gender issues, equality and voting rights, were being forged in the wake of slavery and the Civil War.
“This is a story I knew little about before reading the show,” says founder and producing artistic director, Bill Taylor. “The friendship of Douglass and Anthony was complimented by the fact that they were driven by the same principles and goals regarding equal rights yet challenged by a society and government that might allow one group (black men) to vote yet deny another (women) access to the polls. With the talents of Derek and Dena taking on these personas I know we will have one outstanding evening of theatre for our patrons! ”
Classically trained, Derek Lively has appeared in productions ranging from Shakespeare to Eugene O’Neill and has worked in regional theaters and Off-Broadway, including The Public Theater and LaMama E.T.C. His solo show, Welcome To My Soul, which he wrote and performed, led to a first-look development deal with NBC. Derek is an award-winning screenwriter, NYC produced playwright, and a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association and Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
Dena Galyean was previously seen in Theatre Conspiracy’s 2018 production of A Doll’s House as Nora Helmer. Some of her favorite credits in southwest Florida include Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire, Rosalind in Moon Over Buffalo, Elaine in Last of the Red Hot Lovers and Vixen in The Eight: Reindeer Monologues. Dena is an Illinois native where she also performed in numerous shows.
Individual tickets to each show are $26, $11 for students or $22 for Alliance members. Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturdays with a new 7:30 p.m. start time and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. An audio described performance will take place on Jan. 27. Reservation of headsets is required prior to the show by calling 239-939-2787.
To widen the post-show conversation and discuss what the art onstage means to us as individuals and as a society, the Alliance will facilitate a community conversation, also on Jan. 27. The opportunity is included with ticket purchase.
The Agitators is sponsored by Janet and Bruce Bunch. To purchase tickets or for more information, call the box office at 239-939-2787, visit 10091 McGregor Blvd. Fort Myers, FL or go online at www.ArtInLee.org/Theatre.