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The original item was published from 3/10/2022 1:16:39 PM to 4/17/2022 12:00:04 AM.

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Posted on: March 10, 2022

[ARCHIVED] Rutherford Arts Alliance gives voice to women from our past with 'Party of Twelve' April 8-10


The Rutherford Arts Alliance announces the world premiere of "Party of Twelve," an original play that illuminates a few of the many inspiring women from Rutherford County History. Performances are at Washington Theatre at Patterson Park Community Center. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Please watch for more details at Leading Ladies - Rutherford County History on Facebook, @leadingladiesruco on Instagram or the Leading Ladies website at

Tickets may be purchased by going to 


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.

Party of Twelve CAST LIST:

Olivia Katlyn Marion

Mary Kate Patterson Jaclyn Bri Wood

Sarah Childress Polk Megan Pennington

Mary Ellen Vaughn Lesley Nicole

Will Allen Dromgoole Rebecca Christie

Willie Betty Newman Mileah Milstead

Annie Brawley Jackson Teagan Cooper

Nannie Rucker Laray Richardson

Lottie Sublett Patrićyonna Rodgers

Mary Noailles Murfree Heather Gardner

Myrtle Glanton Lord Brenda Mcknight

Mariah Sabrina Birdine-Moore


"Working on this play has me thinking quite a lot about dreams - both the kind we have at night and usually forget upon waking, but also the kind we hold onto and walk around with - the goals and hopes we have for the future. As each of the women on stage shares how they shaped and reformed the world around them, I’d like to invite our audience to join the journey they began. It’s through the steps we take together and the dreams and actions we inspire in each other, that real growth can come."

Danielle Roos, Director

"Party of Twelve is not a reenactment. It’s a flight of fancy based on true details. There are so many amazing women from Rutherford County history from every walk of life. The handful that we chose to be in the play are diverse and representative, but there are so many more to be discovered and celebrated. I hope that when people come to see the play it makes them curious enough to do their own research and inspired to make their own unique contribution to Rutherford County history."

Mary Donnet Johnson, Playwright of Party of Twelve

"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."

Mary Watkins, African American Heritage Society of Rutherford County President, and Leading Ladies Project Historian

"For our community to rally around a play focused entirely on the contributions and achievements of women from our past is a tremendous accomplishment. With its deep dive into the histories of just a handful of historic women, Party of Twelve will hopefully inspire people to learn more about the many fascinating women in Rutherford County’s past."

Antoinette van Zelm, Assistant Director of the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University and Leading Ladies Project Historian

"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."

Susan D. Gulley, Director of Cultural and Heritage Tourism, Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, and Rutherford Arts Alliance Chair

"Drag your husbands! I promise you this entertaining glimpse of historical women will surprise and delight."

Andrea Loughry, arts and community advocate, and Leading Ladies Chair

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