Virtual Theater: Burning Coal’s 19th Amendment Project

Raleigh’s Burning Coal Theatre is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment by partnering with 12 other local theater groups to virtually release a series of 14 new plays, called “The 19th Amendment Project.”

Written by women and non-binary playwrights, the plays focus on the impact and significance of the amendment. Each ten-minute play will be released one-by-one August 17-30. The plays will be available to stream from the date of their release until the end of September.

Jerry Davis, the artistic director of Burning Coal Theatre, was approached by the League of Women Voters of Wake County to partner on a project based on the amendment.

“The plays are all about the broad idea of whether people who live in a democratic republic, as we do, have the right to vote,” Davis said. “And if so, who does and who doesn’t? I think all the plays come down on the side of everybody has a right to vote — and why the heck did it take us that long to figure it out?”

Having an all-woman and non-binary team of contributing playwrights from different races and backgrounds is consistent with the project’s aims.

“The overall theme of the project has to do with the large idea of inclusion, so it would be silly to do a project like this about inclusion and not make it inclusive,” Davis said.

Playwright Kelly Doyle recruited the writers for the project, and her piece for the show is entitled “She drove me to the town hall when I turned 18 so I could register to vote.”

The play is a monologue told by a self-professed activist. Set in a coffee shop, a middle-aged white woman responds to questions about her voting history. Surprisingly, the woman does not vote as regularly as one would think. For Doyle, the piece is semi-biographical.

“I wanted to really put out there the character that was the former me, the worst parts of myself that I have since evolved from,” Doyle said. “It’s very typical of a white, liberal, privileged woman.”

Her play focuses on privilege when it comes to voting.

“When your life doesn’t depend on it so much, it’s really typical,” she said.

Although audiences won’t be able to experience the in-person atmosphere of the theater, Davis believes watching the entire series will give virtual theatergoers a comprehensive idea of the project.

“We didn’t want to just say what we think, we wanted to say, ‘Here are the myriad ways in which people think about this topic,’” Davis said. “Watch it with a group of people whose opinions you trust and talk about it after.”

Tickets for individual plays are $2 and the entire series is $25. For information about the project, visit

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