“The Women Who Built Baton Rouge”
by Aileen Hendricks
The play “Women Who Built Baton Rouge” by Aileen Hendricks is a series of fascinating monologues developed from personal interviews with a variety of women in Baton Rouge in 2002 and one with the present day mayor in September 2017. The first monologue is based on Sarah Morgan’s diary, 1861 to 1865, and other researched sources. The play honors the 200 year anniversary of the incorporation of Baton Rouge and some of the women who helped make Baton Rouge into the great city it is today. Some of the women are better known than others. Mary Frey Eaton and Sharon Weston Broome, the Mayor-President of Baton Rouge, are public figures. Sarah Morgan’s family was often referred to as “The Aristocrats of Baton Rouge” and her diary gives a detailed account of The Civil War in Louisiana’s present-day capital. These women represent all the women who work tirelessly to support and build our society, culture, and country. Although they are all different, they all share one quality without which we could not survive and progress; they have a generosity of spirit that translates into working to build Baton Rouge and America into a great city and country. Come listen to them; they have something to teach everyone.
Sarah Morgan……….KK Landreneaux
Sylvia Steiner……………… Jerel Giarrusso
Jean Armstrong……………..Christina Normand
Marjorie Sellers……….……..… Irene Warner
Betty Levine………………….. Susan Simoneaux
Georgia Watts Brown….………Ariana Walls
Robelyn Abadie……….……Susan Simoneaux
Pam Baldwin…………..………Christina Normand
Charlotte Mattmiller…….…. Jerel Giarrusso
Valerie Jackson Jones….….….Anna Colar
Rev. Jennifer Jones …….. Ariana Walls
Betty Lou Roundtree……..Christina Normand
Polly Williams…………….….Susan Simoneaux
Evelyn Robinson………………Irene Warner
Robbie Madden……………Jerel Giarrusso
Mary Frey Eaton………… Christina Normand
Sharon Weston Broome……Anna Colar
A native of Jeanerette, Louisiana Anna is the daughter of Bruce and Earline Guy, who is deceased. Anna is devoted to Jesus. She graduated with an Associate Degree in Auto/Diesel/Hydraulic from Universal Technical Institute in Houston, Texas, after which she worked for Audi. She has a son, Isaiah and is married to Felton Colar Jr. Presently, she is working on her two dreams, acting and writing a Christian novel. Anna is a published author of a book, “Insurmountable” and says, “Do not despise humble beginnings; it’s God that gives promotion.”
Jerel M. Giarrusso
A New Orleans native, Jerel M. Giarrusso and her husband, Ted Hanson, have two adult children. Jerel is an accredited, veteran public relations professional and retired as the Director of Communications for the Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice. Although she enjoys attending stage and cultural productions, Jerel’s first stage appearance since junior high school about a half-century ago, was LA VOW’s 2015 production of The Exact Center of the Universe, followed by The Things You Least Expect. She appreciates the opportunity that LA VOW has given her to learn stagecraft, backstage operations and appear on its stage. Jerel credits much of what she has learned about theatre to her daughter, AEA Stage Manager Elena Hansen, MFA, who currently serves as Production Manager of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival and teaches stage management and production at Illinois State University.
Aileen Hendricks (Play Director & Artistic Director of La VOW Theatre Company, Incorporated August 30, 2013 as a non-profit 501c3)
Aileen has more than 50 years experience in amateur, professional, community and educational theatre. She retired (December 14, 2014) from Southern University as a full professor of Speech and Theatre after 23 years of service. She has written plays; published scholarly articles; and won awards from community, professional, educational and artistic organizations. One of the first women to graduate from Texas A&M University in 1971 (1974 Masters), she earned her doctorate in theatre from LSU in 1988. She is married to Donald Luke Couvillion and is the proud mother of August W. Wenck, Robert W. Wenck Jr. and Yolanda Prevost-Lyons.
K.K. is from St Francisville, a BRCC acting student and her stage debut with LA VOW was the production of “The Things You Least Expect” by Joan Vail Thorne. She has continued to participate with the company as a stagehand in the recent production of “Kalamazoo” and continues to grow with the LaVOW Company in “Women Who Built Baton Rouge” as Sarah Morgan.
Christina Normand has worked both on stage and off as an actor, stage manager, props wrangler, and stage/tech crew with Theatre Baton Rouge (formerly Baton Rouge Little Theater), Ascension Community Theatre, Swine Palace, Southeastern Shakespeare Company, Louisiana Voices of Women (LAVOW), and Baker Little Theater. She has played a variety of roles, including an eighty-year-old prostitute, a religious fanatic, an accused witch, a talking chicken, a pair of identical twins, and Lady Justice herself. She is thrilled to be working with Aileen Hendricks on yet another LAVOW production! She would like to thank her daughter Franke Normand and her husband Johnny Myers for their unconditional support in her pursuit of the glorious madness called theatre.
Born and raised in New Orleans LA, Susan has been a resident of Baton Rouge since 1975. A founding member of Mount Carmel Academy’s theater group, Shinto Tori Kabuki, she participated in theater at Loyola University as well. Since her retirement after forty years with the Federal Government, Susan has returned to her early love of theater, particularly in behind the stage capacity. In 2015 she appeared in Murder at the Polite Lady’s Society in the role of Barbara Babbles, and she has also assisted backstage in LAVOW productions of The Exact Center of the Universe and Kalamazoo. Susan is currently a board member of LAVOW, the Westminster Pine Park Civic Association, and the Capital Area Agency on Aging. She is the past president of the Baton Rouge Chapter of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association and now serves as Vice President of the State Chapter. Susan’s volunteer activities include the Burden Rural Life Museum, EBRP Library, Friends of the Baton Rouge Zoo and Volunteers in Public Schools, Reading Friends Program.
Ariana Walls is a young writer, who is passionate about film and theatre. Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin she moved to Baton Rouge in 2012 to take advantage of the opportunities in the blossoming film industry here. She has taken writing and film classes at BRCC and online, has volunteered with the Louisiana International Film Festival for the last 3 years and had a role in Aileen Hendricks’ play ‘Murder at the Polite Ladies Society’ in 2015. She currently has paired up with a local media company here to write a series about young urban professionals and the challenges of everyday life. It is set to premiere in the Fall of 2018.
A faithful supporter of LA VOW (Louisiana Voices of Theatre Company), this is Irene’s third stage appearance in one of Aileen Hendricks’ productions. In addition to WHY CELEBRATE WOMEN?, she performed in “A Collage of Women’s Voices.” Irene has been a part of the Baton Rouge Community for over forty years and attended Southern University. A member of St. Paul’s Catholic Church, Irene is a staunch defender of social justice, having worked with The Working Interfaith Network for over ten years and presently with Together Baton Rouge to resolve issues the Baton Rouge community faces. She also loves visiting her grandchildren every chance she gets.
Anne grew up in Baton Rouge and has lived in Mississippi, Alabama, and Virginia. While in Virginia, she raised her two daughters, worked full time and volunteered with the Girl Scouts and Parents Without Partners as well. She retired after over 40 years in healthcare in 2015. After moving back to Baton Rouge, Anne met her husband of five years Gerald. They opened Woods Foods in 2016, which specializes in sweet jalapeno relish. A member of the Spanish Town Ladies Auxillary, Anne volunteers at Cancer Services and Theatre Baton Rouge. She started acting after she was over fifty, performing in THE EXACT CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE, GUYS AND DOLLS, A CHRISTMAS CAROL and, most recently, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Anne is happy to be working with these talented women in this production about important women of Baton Rouge.