This past Saturday night, I performed in the debut production of What To Expect When You’re Not Expecting, a themed show by the TMI Project to benefit Planned Parenthood and TMI’s community outreach initiative (which brings writing and monologuing workshops to disadvantaged populations). The show was nothing short of magical, and it was an honour beyond words to be a part of it. E and S, the co-directors of TMI, put together a collection of pieces, mostly monologues (one penned by me), around the theme of reproduction and reproductive rights. The script was phenomenal. The pacing and sequencing were perfect. The final piece was absolutely devastating. I’ve heard that piece, “The Lucky Ones,” four times now, and after each time, I’ve realized that I’ve been holding my breath the whole way through it.
I was freaking out during the tech rehearsal, thinking that there was no way we’d be able to pull this off – but it went off flawlessly. Every single piece hit home. We pulled no punches. We went to the dark, difficult, impossible places at every single opportunity. We told true stories that very few people have heard about the complications of reproduction – what can go wrong, and the complex ways that it can go right. The audience laughed. They cried. They gasped in shock and horror at times. After the show, it took me forever to get to my car because audience members kept stopping me to thank me for sharing my piece. The whole experience was transcendent and transformational.
E and S are planning to release this script to the public so that it can be performed by other groups to support Planned Parenthood, in much the same way that Eve Ensler released the Vagina Monologues. It makes me cry with pride for both of them that they are doing this. I know they’ve poured their hearts and souls into this show for the past 9 months, and it shows. I see this script as a warning shot across the bow of those who seek to limit reproductive rights and access to care for women and men: We will NOT let you do this to us. We will NOT let you dumb down these issues or avoid looking at difficult situations just to make your own moral lives easier. We are starting small, but this will snowball.
A phrase apocryphally attributed to Ghandi comes to mind: First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. I am proud of E and S for taking a part in this fight, and I am proud of myself (and everyone else in the cast) for joining this fight.
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