Storyteller and spoken word artist, Ellouise Schoettler will perform two programs in April as part of a Celebration of Women’s History at Fairmont State University.
The first program, “Hello Girls,” will be presented at the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center at FSU at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 5. A reception will follow the program. “Hello Girls” tells the story of American women telephone operators who answered our country’s call to service in France during WWI. It is about secret signals, black sateen bloomers and women General Pershing called “switchboard soldiers,” but the troops called “Hello Girls” for their familiar “hello” when answering the calls from the front. Key in winning Allied victories, these women returned home unacknowledged and nearly forgotten. Schoettler will share three monologues from their words to give these women a chance to tell their story.
On Wednesday, April 6, at noon at the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center, Schoettler will perform “Pushing Boundaries,” her personal journey from “1950s housewife” to a national advocate for the Equal Rights Amendment. A 79-year-old seasoned professional storyteller, Schoettler performs nationwide and is known for her warm-hearted and humorous take on personal stories and stories of women’s experiences. Since 2010, she has created and performed original one-woman shows for the Capital Fringe Festival in Washington, D.C.
The Celebration of Women’s History is offered through a grant from the West Virginia Humanities Council with support from the Fairmont State University School of Fine Arts, the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center and the FSU Abelina Suarez Professorship. Admission to both programs is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Dr. Francene Kirk at (304) 367-4170.
The Abelina Suarez Professorship, the University’s highest faculty honor, includes an annual monetary prize to fund a research project of the recipient’s choice over a five-year period. Dr. Francene Kirk, Professor of Communication and Theatre in the School of Fine Arts, was awarded the Abelina Suarez Professorship in April 2013. Kirk’s project will contain interviews of women who went to high school before 1972 and where they received the information about their life and career choices.
The Abelina Suarez Professorship recognizes extended and continued excellence by a member of the FSU faculty. A bequest by the estate of Abelina Suarez established the University’s first named professorship. Abelina Suarez, who was born in 1910 in Spain but grew up in Anmoore, was the first woman to graduate from Ohio University in a field called German chemistry. She was a math and science teacher in Harrison County for more than 30 years. She attended Fairmont State Teachers College in the 1940s and also earned a master’s degree in education from West Virginia University. Through her generosity and foresight, Suarez designated a portion of her estate to support educational opportunities at Fairmont State.
The Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center at Fairmont State University is dedicated to the identification, preservation and perpetuation of our region’s rich cultural heritage, through academic studies, educational programs, festivals and performances and publications. For more information about the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center, visit www.fairmontstate.edu/folklife.
For more information about the FSU School of Fine Arts, visit http://www.fairmontstate.edu/schooloffinearts/.