Saturday, January 31, 2009

DFW Theatre: One in 3

Wednesday night I went to see One in 3, "a play about the reality, not the politics" of abortion.*

The website doesn't give much info about the "story" of the play, but that's because it's not really a linear-storyline kind of thing. It reminded me of The Vagina Monologues (PS - SMU and UNT are participating in V-Day, if you're interested), but ties together by a specific topic.

The play takes place in the waiting room of an abortion clinic. Through monologues, duets, and not-overdone use of multi-media, these series of open-ended vignettes give us glimpses into the lives of the women who walk into those clinics every day.

We don't follow each women through to find out how her story ends; we see her come in to the clinic, and through her interactions with the nurse and/or other patients or through flashback-type scenes we find out why the woman is there. The receptionist (Molly Milligan) breaks the fourth wall and shares a few statistics about abortion with us, for example that 49% of pregnancies in the US are unplanned. While not every unplanned pregnancy is going to be an unwanted pregnancy, "unplanned" is the first prerequisite for "unwanted."

At first it struck me that we did not find out what happened to the women after they walked out of the waiting room. "Dena," the receptionist, is the only character (and actress) who stays with us throughout the play; the other women come and go, and the actress returns as another character. The cast does an amazing job of playing such diverse roles, becoming each woman. Emily Ko goes from an uptight adult to a shy minor to a crunchy-granola EcoNazi; it was mesmerizing to see her body language change so completely for each role to accurately portray such diverse ages. Rhianna Mack also stands out in this area, first appearing as an African-American high school senior with full "street" attitude complete with Ebonics (I swear I had this student in class last semester; I had to resist the urge to write her an office referral), then appearing as the clinic counselor: warm, comforting, mature (and eloquent).

At first I wanted to know what happened to each woman. Some of them still seemed conflicted as they sat in the waiting room; some, I felt the counselor would not allow to have the procedure done because the women did not seem ready or sure about their choice. And, conditioned by Hollywood, I want everything to be tied up in a neat little package with a pretty pink bow on top and a happy ending spelled out for me. But then I got it -- that was not the point.

The point is to get people talking. To get people to realize that women have to deal with this. Pregnancy happens, whether you want it to or not. And it happens for a wide variety or reasons. In a perfect world, unwanted pregnancies would not happen. But the world is far from perfect. So let's deal with the reality, not the "shoulds."

The women portrayed in the play are real women. The writers spoke with several women who have had an abortion, and these characters evolved from those conversations. Also, they are not the stereotyped extreme: this is not a play about the thirteen-year-old who was raped by her father and how we need to keep abortion legal because of her. Yes, we do see the heroin junkie who's going in for her second abortion. Yes, we see the homeless woman who was raped.

But we also see the woman who just got a promotion at work and is not ready for a child right now, who does not want to condemn her child to be raised by a nanny because she's a "phantom mom." We see the girl who does have love and support from her family and the boyfriend, but she does not want to have a child right now.

We see women in so many different situations who make this decision for so many different reasons. Sometimes that reason is, "Because I cannot bring a child into this life right now -- that's not right for the potential child." And sometimes, that reason is "Because this is what I need to do, for me, at this point in my life."

I have SO much more to say about this, and I probably will say it. But I'll end this post here for now.

Please go see One in 3. The run has been extended through next weekend (it's been selling out, so they're doing something right).

The play is not propaganda. As the writers explain in the program,
"An anti-choice activist recently said, 'Our goal is to increase he social tension over abortion.' Our goal, very different, is tomove beyond political argument to the deep, private places where real women make complex choices. Our hope is to foster respect for the reproductive decisions every woman must make."
For more info on the show and to buy tickets, please visit

Showtimes are tonight (Sat) at 8:00 pm (this performance will be followed by a talkback, which I highly recommend), and next weekend, Friday (2/6) and Saturday (2/7) at 8:00 pm, at The Green Zone in Dallas. Click here for tickets!

One in 3 is a co-production of Project X Theatre, the Texas Equal Access Fund and One Mind Productions, Inc. in partnership with the National Network of Abortion Funds. (Please feel free to make a donation to the TEA Fund and/or the NNAF.)

*It's hard for me to NOT go into the politics on this issue. Maybe it's because I'm overly defensive; maybe it's because I know I'm right and I need to prove it to everyone. Either way, the first draft of this post got a little preachy... Hopefully this draft will keep the propaganda down to a minimum.


  1. You did well not getting fact, I read back through it and can't completely figure out if you are pro or con or in the very wide middle that is very, very gray.

  2. Thanks!

    I'm very much pro-choice, and I think that will become clear in the posts I plan on writing discussing the issues the play got me thinking about; the different levels and layers of the issues.

  3. I have half an hour to dress, eat, and leave for church so this is quick: the more I read your blog, the more I really want to get to know you better.

    Sometimes I feel like no one in TX is pro-choice. Knowing you are is oddly reassuring.

    Your review was very balanced, and since DFW is a metropolitan area, the kind of thing that ATG would have included. When you have time, please talk to me? We don't get paid, but you'd get good exposure, and we need your voice.