Friday, October 21, 2022

"The Abortion Chronicles" by Mermaid Productions at Haus of Loring

The Scarlet Letter A does not always mean Adultery, it can also stand for Abortion. Something to be ashamed of and never spoken about. Or at least that's how it used to be, but lately it's become more common for women, and men, to share their abortion stories. That was the impetus behind the 2016 Minnesota Fringe Festival show The Abortion Chronicles, created by Ariel Pinkerton, Ruth Virkus, and Ben Layne. At the time I wrote "40+ years after Roe v. Wade it's important to be reminded why legal abortion is a necessity, especially in such a human and relatable way as this." It never occurred to me that six years later, legal abortion would no longer be available in many parts of the country after the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Which makes The Abortion Chronicles even more necessary now, as it simply, honestly, and with humanity shares real stories of women making the choice to have an abortion. You can hear these stories Fridays and Saturdays at 7 at Haus of Loring, on Lake Street just off Bde Maka Ska (click here for details).

The Abortion Chronicles is a series of people telling stories (theirs or someone else's), strung together with the concept of a waiting room at a local clinic. The basement room at Haus of Loring looks very much like a drab clinic, industrial walls, gray carpet, and a saggy but comfortable couch. Dana Lee Thompson and Anthony Burton play employees at the clinic who welcome the women in, and also tell a few stories of what it's like to work at a clinic that provides abortions. The women (and a male partner or two) are called into the waiting room, and tell their story. Every story is different - health challenges for the mother or baby, lack of support to care for a child, or failed birth control. But every story is the same - "I'm pregnant, and I can't be." Facts and figures don't tell the full story, it's only through real human experiences that we can truly understand this or other issues. The dozen or so stories are beautifully and honestly told over about 75 minutes or so, and listening to them, you can't help but feel compassion for these women as they make the difficult but right choice for themselves, their bodies, their families.

The intimate performance space is a small room with about 20 chairs set up along two sides, the performers sitting on or standing around the couch. They look directly at the audience as they tell their stories, making it feel even more personal. It's a raw unfiltered theater experience, without any fancy bells and whistles, just good storytelling.

Visit the Facebook event page for details and to purchase tickets (half of the proceeds go to a local clinic). The space is a bit hard to find - go around to the alley behind the building to a door where someone is waiting to welcome you in. Street parking is available, and watch the event page for more parking options.