Rutherford Arts Alliance Gives Voice to Women from Our Past

Mar 10, 2022 at 04:21 pm by WGNS

Murfreesboro, TN – The Rutherford Arts Alliance announces the world premiere of Party of Twelve by Mary Donnet Johnson, an original play that illuminates just a few of the many inspiring women from Rutherford County History. Performances are at the beautiful 300- seat Washington Theatre at Patterson Park Community Center in Murfreesboro, TN.

Due to unprecedented excitement and support from sponsors and generous contributors, the Gala Opening Night performance on April 8 is entirely sold out. General Admission Tickets for Saturday, April 9 at 7:30 pm, and Sunday, April 10 at 3:00 pm, are priced at $10 per person and are still available but going fast. The audience is also invited to an informal conversation with members of the cast, the playwright, director, and community leaders following the Sunday, April 10th performance.

• Andrea Loughry, arts and community advocate, and Leading Ladies Chair stated, "Drag your husbands! I promise you this entertaining glimpse of historical women will surprise and delight!"

What’s it about?

Party of Twelve opens with a modern-day MTSU history student trying her best to stay awake to finish an important speech celebrating historic women that she must deliver the next day. As she can’t help but give in to sleep, her dreams are populated by a diverse group of powerful women from Rutherford County’s past. For a little more than an hour, these vivid figures burst forth from the dusty archives to speak of their struggles, pain, triumphs, and joy. Written in the style of magical realism with a generous dose of humor, Party of Twelve is a vibrant celebration that will touch your heart, stay on your mind, and spark important conversations for a long time to come.

• Mary Watkins, African American Heritage Society of Rutherford County President, and Leading Ladies Project Historian said, "I am honored and grateful to have been given the privilege of serving on the Leading Ladies Party of Twelve Committee. I have cherished the opportunity to learn valuable information about individuals of the past while getting to know individuals of today whose path I might otherwise never have crossed"

Who’s behind all this?

The umbrella organization, Leading Ladies of Rutherford County History, was formed by a committee of community and arts organization leaders. Undeterred by the many challenges of recent times, this diverse group has orchestrated an ongoing celebration of the many extraordinary women from Rutherford County history who have contributed to and shaped our lives today. Starting in 2020 with a focus on the Centennial observance of Women’s Right to Vote, the Leading Ladies group joined in a national and statewide observance of Tennessee’s unique role in casting the deciding vote to ratify the 19th amendment in 1920.

In conjunction with these activities Rutherford Arts Alliance commissioned Tennessee playwright Mary Donnet Johnson -- an expert in highlighting historical figures onstage -- to bring some of our local figures to life, and thus Party of Twelve was born.

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Who else is involved?

The Rutherford Arts Alliance is fortunate to have many partners for this once-in-a-century event: Main Street Murfreesboro, Carpe Artista, Center for the Arts, the Convention and Visitors Bureau of the Chamber of Commerce, MTSU’s Center for Historic Preservation, Smyrna Artists Cooperative, the Murfreesboro Art League, African American Heritage Society of Rutherford County, MTSU College of Liberal Arts, Cultural Arts Murfreesboro and more. There was also an impressive group of visual artists who were recruited to create unique art boards to be used in the performance, generous in-kind contributions from Creative Marketing Solutions at MTSU and, of course, the staff and crew of the Washington Theatre.

• Susan D. Gulley, Director of Cultural and Heritage Tourism, Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, and Rutherford Arts Alliance Chair said, "The first time we read it out loud I was afraid it was going to be kind of boring and dry like history can be sometimes, but it was fun and funny! I loved it."

The Rutherford Arts Alliance believes this play is the perfect opportunity to live out its mission of “Connecting Creatives & Community,” and invite the community to join in this collective endeavor.

Learn more by visiting: Leading Ladies of Rutherford County (


Friday, April 8th, 2022 at 7:30 p.m. SOLD OUT
Saturday April 9th, 2022 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 10th, 2022 at 3 p.m.

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