Crowds filled the Theatre for the New City in New York to overflowing to see the story of the first woman to run for president of the United States, starring University of Lynchburg alumna Elena Kritter ’12.
“Victoria Woodhull” by playwright Claude Solnik tells the story of an activist who was deeply involved in the women’s rights movement in the late 1800s. While advocating for greater pay, freedom, and equality for women, Victoria Woodhull was a pioneer, being the first woman to own a Wall Street brokerage, address a congressional committee, or run for president, which she did in 1872.
As it happens, she spent election day in jail on false charges after she had published a newspaper article to expose an adulterous, hypocritical — but popular — preacher.
Elena has enjoyed bringing Victoria to life, and she finds it ironic that she is portraying the suffragist so soon after the first time a woman ran for president as the nominee of a major political party. “It’s more timely than ever now,” she said. “This play is bigger than myself. There’s something bigger about it than just me in a little blackbox theater in New York City.”
Elena took her first acting class in eighth grade, but when she arrived at LC she was still planning to become a nurse. While studying in the Westover Honors Program and taking nursing classes, she also spent a lot of time on stage, where she had a change of heart. “It was during my time in Lynchburg that I realized I wanted to do this for a living,” she said. After graduating at LC, she studied at the William Esper Studio in New York.
She decided to audition for the part after researching the 19th Century women’s rights activist. She feels that her purpose in life is to tell stories that generate empathy, compassion, and connection. She also enjoys the opportunity to resurrect a lost historical figure such as Victoria Woodhull. “It feels necessary to bring that torch from the past to the future,” she said.
There are 6 more performances of “Victoria Woodhull” at Theatre for New City, at 155 First Ave, New York City. Performances are at 8 p.m. November 26 and December 1–3 and at 3 p.m. November 27 and December 4. Tickets can be purchased online for $18.