January 22 marked the 50th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade ruling. As we reflect, we proudly look back upon our October production of My Body No Choice which not only made a lasting impact on local audiences, but also spread and impacted audiences nation-wide.
When we announced My Body No Choice would be going national, we were thrilled that this production would have a life beyond our stage. Seeing these powerful monologues shared across America—from New York to Hawai’i—was empowering and humbling. My Body No Choice readings were produced by almost 30 theater companies and universities all over the country, performed in sold-out auditoriums, and in coffee shops and bars.
We received incredible stories from all of these readings. Much like our Whisper Room and Whisper Wall here at Arena, many partners created their own audience engagement activities to allow as many people as possible to tell their stories. Many also hosted talkbacks with their cast, some with guest speakers from organizations such as Planned Parenthood.
UP Theater Company in Manhattan raved that their production was “a smashing success.” Emily Rasmuss of Montana State University wrote of their reading, “Mostly, I liked gathering with friends and strangers to witness these stories, so beautifully written, so impactful, so true. Truth like this is a gift and our best weapon against the assault on our rights and our bodies. Thank you so much for sending this experience across the country to us. We loved it.”
Gateway Regional Arts Center of Kentucky shared their excitement following the midterm elections: “We are excited that Kentuckians REJECTED a constitutional amendment that bans abortions outright in Kentucky!”
Alex Lonati, director of the SpeakEasy Stage production in Boston, wrote about her powerful experience, “I have spent the past few months unbelievably angry and deeply worried for those who do not have the privilege of living somewhere like Massachusetts, where reliable reproductive healthcare is still accessible. It has been difficult not to feel helpless when it feels like our rights are stripped and our voices are ignored every day.
Then I read My Body No Choice and realized that SpeakEasy could do something tangible to make a difference. This piece so beautifully and necessarily uplifts the voices of those directly affected by the overturning of Roe v. Wade, illustrating the breadth of experiences related to this decision.
It is our responsibility to make space for those who are grieving, who are struggling, who are angry and worried and desperate to be heard. This is the time for us to be loud, to take up space, and to make lawmakers comprehend that we will not sit back and simply accept this injustice. So please – listen to this work, use your voice to spread the word, and show up to the polls. We must demand the bodily autonomy that is so rightfully ours.”
We extend our deepest thanks to these theater companies and universities for spreading the message of My Body No Choice. And we hope audiences, actors, and blog readers alike have been empowered to talk about their own difficult choices. Now is the time to be loud, to tell our stories.
Read on for the full list of theater companies and universities who participated, and to see photo highlights from this national movement.