Headshot of Sandy Rustin

Five Fast Facts About The Suffragette’s Murder by Sandy Rustin

The Suffragette’s Murder by Sandy Rustin was selected by DCPA Theatre Company as one of four featured readings in its 2023 Colorado New Play Summit. Get to know this all-new play before it’s read in front of a Denver audience for the first time!


Playwright Sandy Rustin penned an adaptation of the cult classic, CLUE, one of the most produced plays of the 2022/23 season with more than 3,000 productions. Her website says, “Directed by Casey Hushion, the play broke all box office records during its regional premiere at Cleveland Play House, its West Coast premiere at La Mirada Playhouse, and its East Coast premiere at Paper Mill Playhouse where the New York Times called it “a welcome throwback to an era of physical comedy!”


The Suffragette’s Murder takes place in the early stages of the Women’s Rights Movement, in 1857. Many think of this movement and imagine the 1910s, when the Suffrage Movement intensified. However, the Women’s Rights Movement began as early as 1848, before the Civil War and the abolition of slavery. Note, James Buchanan was president from 1857 – 1861 and is mentioned a couple times in the play.


The “tussle” between the Dead Rabbits and the Bowery Gang mentioned in the play is based in fact. On the evening of July 4, 1857, a riot took place in downtown Manhattan between Metropolitan Police, Dead Rabbits, Bowery B’hoys, and other gangs. The Dead Rabbits were an Irish American street gang active in the 1830s and 50s, who often clashed with nativist groups. The Bowery B’hoys were one of said groups, an anti-Irish and anti-Catholic street gang comprised of working-class individuals.


Both Seneca Village and Seneca Falls are mentioned in the play but are very separate locations. Seneca Village was the largest community of free African-American property owners in New York. Despite New York’s abolition of slavery in 1827, racism and discrimination were still prominent, and Seneca Village served as a sort of refuge. The City acquired the land through eminent domain in the early 1850s and created what is now Central Park. Seneca Village was targeted due to its demographic, and while the land was technically acquired legally, landowners were not fairly compensated, and others fought to retain their land though they were ultimately evicted. 


Seneca Falls, often called the Birthplace of Women’s Rights, is a town in upstate New York. The Seneca Falls Convention was held in 1848, which is mentioned in the play. Though scholars debate the historical significance of the convention, it is where activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton drafted The Declaration of Sentiments, which called for women’s equality.

The Suffragette’s Murder
Featured in the 2023 Colorado New Play Summit
Feb 25 & 26, 2023