The University of Maine Student Women’s Association (SWA) held a production called “Out of Silence” last week as part of the nationwide 1 in 3 Campaign, which aims to build a more enabling environment for the policies and legal work that advocate for women’s abortion rights.
The play consists of a series of 10 scenes based on real stories of women who have had abortions.
“Theater is a really powerful tool to create empathy and give a human face to the issue,” Mariah Curtis, director of “Out of Silence,” said.
The play is produced by Jessica Carignan, a national Out of Silence campaign affiliate. She was introduced to the script this September during the conference held by Advocates for Youth, the founder of the 1 in 3 campaign.
“This is a brand new play, and UMaine is part of the first wave of schools doing it,” Carignan said.
“Theater is a form of art that is very personal, and an appropriate way to handle this, because everyone has big stands [sic] on abortion,” Curtis said.
The Maine House of Representatives leans pro-choice, while the Maine Senate leans mixed-choice, meaning some senators may not agree with pro-choice senators on abortion rights issues. However, both parties agree on increasing access to methods that prevent unintended pregnancies and the need for abortion such as contraception, emergency contraception and comprehensive sexuality education.
“Abortion is not a political argument nor a religious debate. It is a really tough decision that a woman herself has to make,” Megan Frisard, a member of SWA said. Along with 10 other members of SWA, Frisard was one of the cast members in Out of Silence. “The goal of this play is to portray abortion in a light that is not seen in the media nowadays.”
“In order to recognize the unique situations that women have to face, it is important to end the stigma about abortion and have a productive conversation about it, rather than a political debate,” she continued.
There were nearly 70 people in Minsky Recital Hall for the Friday night show. During the play, all of the cast members were present on stage, sitting on chairs while waiting for their scenes, and occasionally playing the role of background voices. Dressed in mostly black, the cast performed with minimal props. A representative from Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center was present in the audience to answer audience questions regarding abortion.
“Male representation is equally as important as female,” William Bann, one of two male cast members in “Out of Silence,” said. “People can have pregnancy scares while in a relationship, and this play helps you understand the reality of this situation by giving both good and bad scenarios.”
Two stories were cut from the original script because the cast was not racially diverse enough to play those scenes. Despite this, the play struck a chord with audience members.
“When I was younger, a lot of women my age who were pregnant and unmarried would have their children,” Diane Simonds, mother of one of the cast members, said. “People are much more receptive now and I think that’s good.”