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Staged Reading: “Threads of Silver and Gold – Women of the Panama Canal” on Feb. 20

Playwright and director Deborah B. Dickey has created a play in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Panama Canal. Threads of Silver and Gold: Women of the Panama Canal looks at the role of women who arrived from the West Indies, England and the United States during the construction period of the canal.

The performance will take place Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. at the Hippodrome Cinema in Gainesville. The event is free and open to the public.

The “silver and gold” of the title refers to the separate payrolls used to classify workers (skilled and unskilled) that evolved into an overall culture of discrimination between races that persisted through much of the 20th century in Panama. Full of heroism and striving, the play celebrates the pioneering women who left behind family to face enormous challenges as they witnessed the realization of the 400-year-old dream to join the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

The play will be followed by a discussion with the audience and a panel of University of Florida faculty, actors and the playwright on issues of race, class and gender from various perspectives, historical and contemporary.

Sponsored by the Center for the Humanities in the Public Sphere with support from the Rothman endowment, the play is presented by the George A. Smathers Libraries at UF with additional support from the university’s Samuel Proctor Oral History Program and the Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations.

Dickey created her characters using letters, oral histories and other resources from the Panama Canal Museum Collection at UF and other related collections. She received her MFA in acting and directing from UF’s School of Theatre and Dance and is a director and producer for A Classic Theatre Inc. in St. Augustine.


Lee Herring, Communications Assistant
Panama Canal Museum Collection

Threads of Silver and Gold: Women of the Panama Canal

A new play by Deborah B. Dickey
February 20, 7:00 p.m.
Hippodrome Cinema
25 S.E. 2nd Place, Gainesville


Photo, showing boarding house proprietress and children in a restaurant, from Panama Canal Museum Collection/University of Florida.