Lavinia, Play about First Female Lawyer in Wisconsin, Debuts this Month

This  month, the Bartell Theatre is featuring a  new play about the first female lawyer in Wisconsin.  “Lavinia” debuts March 19-21 in Madison before moving on to Janesville, Wausau, and Superior.

From the State Bar of Wisconsin announcement:

In 1879, Lavinia Goodell made history by becoming the first female lawyer admitted to the bar in Wisconsin. To celebrate her accomplishments and the impact on the legal profession and gender equality movement, four cities will host the production or reading of Lavinia, written by Madison playwright Betty Diamond.

The play explores the challenges Goodell faced including a Wisconsin Supreme Court convinced that women belonged in their traditional roles. It also honors the support she received from the Rock County bar, which had admitted her in 1874, and John Cassoday who introduced the legislation that prohibited gender-based discrimination in bar admissions.

Madison performances include a talk-back after the show with UW Law School Professor Linda Greene.

Update 3/4/15:  Today’s Inside Track has good article about the play with more background on Goodell’s struggle for admittance to the bar as well as some comments from Chief Justice Abrahamson.