A theatrical performance of the “Abortion Monologues” will take place in Dewing 103, this Thursday, March 3 at 7p.m. The second anuual event is the brain child of Dr. Karyn Boatwright and Alison Geist. For about eight years, Boatwright’s Feminist Psychology class performed the Vagina Monologues for class credit, but Geist, who is the director of the Mary Jane Underwood Stryker Center for Civic Engagement (CCE), was interested in connecting one of K’s service learning classes with Planned Parenthood. Once they began to collaborate, they thought, “why not do something similar and call it the ‘Abortion Monologues’?” The point of such an event is to provide an empowering space for women who have received an abortion at Planned Parenthood to share their stories and just tell their truths, whether their experiences were positive or negative.
Now, putting on the event is part of students’ civic engagement requirement in Boatwright’s Feminist Psychology class. Students are split into an acting group, a talk-back group, and a marketing group. However, the interviews are conducted by all students, and they are not limited to the women who received abortions but also include the medical care providers and the political leaders who have been proactive in fighting for reproductive justice in the community for their entire careers.
Most providers at Planned Parenthood did not wish to go on public record because any sort of media coverage has become increasingly life-threatening due to recent backlash. For this reason, only the content from a couple of individuals’ courageous interviews will be integrated into to the monologue performance, withholding any type of verbatim translation.
Director Lindsay Worthington K’17 is in charge of organizing the transcriptions of the final interviews, concentrating on the most salient responses from multiple stories told by women who seek abortions and what kind of pain and agony or lack thereof is present in their lives, and preparing them for the presentation. Their exact words, including the “ums” and the “likes” will be reflected word for word by student actors from Boatwright’s Feminist Psychology class plus one or two people from the Theater Department who will bring the monologues to life on stage. Leland Merrill K’17 is currently a student in the Feminist Psychology class, whose job is to oversee the advertising of the event.
Merrill is “really excited to see how the interviews are going to translate in the performances.”
Boatwright hopes that the event will help crystallize the ways in which women suffer from public health disparities and external responses to their decisions to have an abortion. She wants it to highlight some of the decisions and conditions that most often lead women to go to Planned Parenthood.
“Some of them feel guilt, most feel satisfied,” Boatwright said. “We have worked with a somewhat biased set of people because our interviews were based on a sample of people who volunteered to share their stories.”
She said she hopes it will offer a new perspective on the intersectionality of various different public health issues, class issues, and race issues.
“They are all influencing the access to good health care, the ability to control [and] willingness to control their own bodies,” she explained.
Following the monologues, there will be a talk-back panel. There is limited space available but tickets can be picked before the show in the Psychology Lounge in Olds Upton.