Student play tells story of early female US politician

We often take for granted the facts and dates we mindlessly absorb from our history textbooks, but there’s always another side to the story.

In honor of March, Women’s History Month, the University Players performed “Like Any Other Woman” this past weekend at the Black Box Theatre.

Set in the small town of Argonia, Kansas, the play tells the story of Susanna “Dora” Salter, the first female mayor in the U.S.

The play was written by senior Sarah Evans, an English and middle-education double major. Evans, an enthusiast for women in government, wanted to tell a story that wouldn’t be included in the typical history textbook, she said.

Evans received a grant from the Office of Undergraduate Research to travel to Argonia to conduct in-depth research on Salter, looking at state archives and other available resources.

“I think it’s important that another piece of art has been made about another American woman who broke social boundaries,” she said.

Moving from the spring of 1887 to the autumn of 1888, the play follows Salter (first-year Rachel Pepin) as she makes the sudden transition from humble homemaker to one of the first female elected officials in the U.S.

Along the way, Salter raises five children, navigates through her relationship with her husband Lewis (first-year Luke Nawrocki), a local business owner and aspiring shopkeeper, and manages to protect the community from a malicious drunkard named Jack Ducker (Paul Gudermann).

Pepin and Nawrocki spent time together outside of rehearsal in order to connect better as people and improve their chemistry as a married couple on stage, she said.

“The whole cast was super enthusiastic about the material, and they all did extra research,” Evans said. “They all put in the extra effort to honor their character.”