'All for the Union'

All For the Union,” a play focusing on three Loudoun County women, will appear at the Capital Fringe Festival in D.C. in July as well as at the historic Aldie Mill in August.

Lida and Lizzie Dutton and Sarah Steer were three pro-Union women from Waterford who became Virginia’s first female journalists. “All For the Union,” based on true events, focuses on the women's stories fighting the Confederacy through journalism while living in a Southern – though very divided – state. Organizers say this is the only play to date about Loudoun’s Civil War history.

Founder and Managing Director of Run Rabbit Run Productions Meredith McMath wrote and produced “All For the Union.” She has directed more than 50 productions since RRR Theatre was created in 2010. Jenna Powell is director of the 2019 production after performing in the play in the past.

McMath told the Times-Mirror the initial production was written several years ago after she did research for the Loudoun Museum and stumbled upon stories of these “local heroes.”

“As a historian, one of my greatest privileges is to find stories no one knows,” McMath said. “There’s nothing like that: No one asked slaves what their lives were like.”

Her statement was a reference to a vignette McMath added to the most recent version of the play in which Union soldier Oliver Willcox Norton asks a female slave about her experiences in slavery, based off a real account McMath read about. Norton is well-known for being the first bugler to sound the call of Taps.

The three protagonists are also not widely known as a part of Loudoun history. McMath said these were “unusual women” for the time – notably since they thought for themselves. This, she said, was because Waterford was a Quaker village and Quakers emphasize equality.

McMath said she’s altered the script after every production, trimming unnecessary scenes and adding new poignant ones like the one with Norton. This summer's production runs less than 80 minutes, a requirement for the Fringe Festival.

“I’m really proud of the cast,” McMath said. “Jenna Powell has done a fantastic job directing them.”

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