Press Release: Advocates for Youth’s 1 in 3 Campaign Announces Production of Groundbreaking Play

For Immediate Release: September 16, 2014
Rachel Cooke,
Advocates for Youth

202.419.3420 x45 rachel@advocatesforyouth.org

1 in 3 Campaign reveals plans for the Out of Silence: Abortion Stories from the 1 in 3 Campaign, a series of vignettes inspired by women’s real life experiences with abortion, coming to a theater January 2015

Washington D.C., – Today, the 1 in 3 Campaign is proud to announce a transformative theatrical piece that will deepen and expand our understanding of women’s experiences with abortion—Out of Silence: Abortion Stories from the 1 in 3 Campaign.

One in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime, but for too long the culture of shame and stigma have pushed these stories to the fringes, or worse, into silence. The play will feature a series of vignettes written by a diverse set of multi-generational, female playwrights based on the over 400 stories from the 1 in 3 Campaign. The play will be co-produced by Jacqueline E. Lawton and directed by Marie Byrd Spoul.

In the same vein as The Vagina Monologues, Out of Silence: Abortion Stories from the 1 in 3 Campaign will explore a wide range of situations and experiences. The play will continue the 1 in 3 Campaign’s mission to start a new conversation about abortion and move beyond the political rhetoric and divisive debate and will instead highlight the importance of abortion plays in the lives of women.

“Plays have a long history of introducing new perspectives and shifting public discourse, while providing audience with a safe space to grapple with important social issues” says Debra Hauser, President of Advocates for Youth. “We have been honored to receive these stories from women across the country. Each story is unique and brings a fresh perspective to the issue, but what is most remarkable are the commonalities that bind us. It is our hope that after seeing these plays performed, the audience will understand that women who seek abortion are our sisters, daughters, mothers, and best friends. Our voices need to be heard and we are thrilled to bring that to stage for wider audiences.”

In keeping with the 1 in 3 Campaign’s dedication to highlighting and furthering the activism of Millennials on abortion access, the play will be made available, for free, for youth activists to stage on their college campuses and their communities. The script for Out of Silence: Abortion Stories from the 1 in 3 Campaign will be available on the 1 in 3 Campaign website.

The play is comprised of a series of short scenes, monologues and point-of-views all inspired from the stories of the 1 in 3 Campaign. The first private read-through for youth activists took place early September 2014. Creative team included co-producer Jacqueline E. Lawton, director Marie Byrd Sproul, dramaturgs Hannah Hessel Ratner and Laura Esti Miller, playwrights Allison Currin, DW Gregory, Caleen Jennings, Nicole Jost, Kristen LePine, Soo-Jin Lee, Danielle Mohlman, Mary Resing, Noelle Viñas, and Anu Yadav and actors Lolita-Marie, Patricia Dugueye, Amal Saade and Jennifer Speerstra.. A fully produced play will be performed for the public in a professional theater in January 2015 around the anniversary of Roe v Wade.

“It’s been an honor working on this project,” says co-producer Jacqueline E. Lawton. “I was deeply touched after reading the stories from the 1 in 3 Campaign, and I feel that Out of Silence creates room for better understanding of the complexities of people’s lives and the need to protect women’s rights.”

“Bringing this production to the stage has been an insightful experience both personally and professionally,” says director Marie Byrd Sproul. “These stories need to be heard, they need to be brought out for all of us to listen to and respect.”


The 1 in 3 Campaign, a project of Advocates for Youth, is a grassroots movement to start a new conversation about abortion that uses storytelling to end the stigma around abortion care in America and to ensure that abortion remains safe, legal, and affordable. http://www.1in3campaign.org/

Co-Producer biography:

Jacqueline E. Lawton was named one of the top 30 national leading black playwrights by Arena Stage’s American Voices New Play Institute. She received her MFA in Playwriting from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a James A. Michener Fellow. Lawton has worked as a dramaturg and research consultant at Active Cultures, Actors Theatre of Louisville – Humana Festival of New American Plays, African Continuum Theater Company, the Arden Theater, Arena Stage, Discovery Theater, Ensemble Studio Theater, Folger Shakespeare Library, the Ford’s Theatre, Horizons Theater, Howard University, the Hub Theatre, Interact Theatre, Kennedy Center VSA Program, Morgan State University, Redshift Productions, Rorschach Theater Company, Round House Theatre, Theater Alliance, Theater of the First Amendment, Theater J, Tribute Productions, University of Maryland, Virginia Stage Company, and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. She serves on the Advisory Board of African Continuum Theatre Company and as the Diversity and Inclusion Online Conference Curator for TCG. She is a proud member of Arena Stage’s Playwright’s Arena and the Dramatist Guild of America. www.jacquelinelawton.com

Director biography:

Marie Byrd Sproul is a freelance director. DC area credits include: Director, One-Minute Play Festival (Round House Theatre); Assistant Director to Jeremy Skidmore on The Beauty Queen of Leenane and to KJ Sanchez on ReEntry (Round House Theatre); Assistant Director to Aaron Posner on The Conference of the Birds (Folger Theatre) and The Last Five Years (Signature Theatre); Director, Stage Door (American Century Theatre). Other Regional theatre credits include: Assistant Director to Gavin Witt on Twelfth Night, to Jeremy Cohen on Let There Be Love and to KJ Sanchez on ReEntry (Centerstage); Co-Director of The Decade Plays (Centerstage); Assistant Director to Aaron Posner on The Game’s Afoot (The Cleveland Playhouse); Director, The Wrestling Season, The Why, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) (ShenanArts).

Playwright biographies:

Allyson Currin is the author of over twenty plays including CAESAR AND DADA (WSC Avant Bard), HERCULES IN RUSSIA (Doorway Arts Ensemble), TREADWELL: BRIGHT AND DARK (The American Century Theatre), UNLEASHED (The Kennedy Center), THE DANCING PRINCESSES (Imagination Stage), BENCHED (Pinky Swear Productions), LOVE AND WHISKEY (Equity Workshop),

CHURCH OF THE OPEN MIND* and THE SUBJECT (Charter Theatre), LEARNING CURVES (Washington Shakespeare Company), AMSTEL IN TEL AVIV* and DANCING WITH OURSELVES (Source Theatre Company). She has twice been nominated for the Helen Hayes’ Charles D. MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play and has been Playwright-in-Residence with First Draft at Charter Theatre and Theatre J’s “Locally Grown” Initiative. She is currently working on a new musical, with Matt Conner, for Tony Award-winning Signature Theatre, and a new commissioned play for Cincinnati Playhouse. She is a founding member of The Welders, a DC-based playwrights collective, which produced her new play, THE CAROLINA LAYAWAY GRAIL, as its inaugural production this past spring. As an actor, she has appeared on such DC-area stages as Signature Theatre, Olney, Arena Stage, Studio, Washington Stage Guild, Washington Shakespeare Company, Everyman, Rep Stage, and others, in addition to her work in television and film. She teaches theatre at The George Washington University.

D.W. Gregory writes in a variety of styles and genres, from the historical epic RADIUM GIRLS to the psychological thriller OCTOBER 1962. A resident playwright at New Jersey Rep, she received a Pulitzer Prize nomination for The Rep’s production of her impressionistic family drama THE GOOD DAUGHTER in 2003. Her comedy MOLUMBY’S MILLION, produced by Iron Age Theatre, was nominated for Philadelphia’s Barrymore Award for Outstanding New Play in 2011. Plays for youth include five plays commissioned by Imagination Stage for its Speak Out on Stage program (among them, PENNY CANDY, MIRACLE IN MUDVILLE and SECRET LIVES OF TOADS) and SALVATION ROAD, winner of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education’s Playwrights in Our Schools award. A member of the Dramatists Guild, Gregory is also an affiliated writer with the Playwrights Center in Minneapolis. Her work is available through Dramatic Publishing and online from Playscripts.com and YouthPLAYS.com.

Caleen Sinnette Jennings is Professor of Theatre at American University. She received the Heideman Award from Actor’s Theatre of Louisville for her play Classyass. She is a two-time Helen Hayes Award nominee for Outstanding New Play. Her play PLAYING JULIET/CASTING OTHELLO was produced at the Folger Shakespeare Theatre in 1998. In 2012, Ms. Jennings’ play HAIR, NAILS & DRESS, was produced by Uprooted Theatre Company of Milwaukee and by the D.C. Black Theatre Festival. Her most recent publication is UNCOVERED, in the 2011 Eric Lane and Nina Shengold anthology Shorter, Faster, Funnier. Dramatic Publishing Company has published: CHEM MYSTERY, ELSEWHERE IN ELSINORE: THE UNSEEN WOMEN OF HAMLET, INNS & OUTS, PLAYING JULIET/CASTING OTHELLO, SUNDAY DINNER, A LUNCH LINE, AND SAME BUT DIFFERENT. Ms. Jennings received her BA in drama from Bennington College and her MFA in Acting from the NYU Tisch School of the Arts.

Nicole Jost is a playwright, teaching artist, producer, and director. Her play THE TERROR FANTASTIC was read as part of the inaugural DC Queer Theatre Festival, named as a finalist for the 2013 Source Festival, and showcased in a 2013 “Inkreading” by The Inkwell. She has also worked with other local theater companies including dog & pony dc, Forum Theatre, and Roundhouse Theatre. Nicole has been recognized by The Washingtonian as a “Woman to Watch.” She received her BA in Theater and Cultural Politics from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Nicole is the Artistic Director of Young Playwrights’ Theater (YPT), the only professional theater in Washington, DC dedicated entirely to arts education, and an alumna of YPT’s In-School Playwriting Program.

Soo-Jin Lee was born in South Korea and raised in northern Virginia, playwright Soo-Jin Lee holds an MFA in Theater from the University of Texas at Austin and is working towards her MEd in Secondary Education in English at George Mason University. Her plays include PEACHES, HOLINESS PEOPLE, and WHY KOREANS DON’T HUG. At the moment, she is writing her full-length drama titled THE MEN MY MOTHER LOVED.

Kristen LePine is a playwright, novelist, and educator. Often inspired by history and current events, Kristen writes to probe unconformable truths, to gain a greater understanding, and to build more empathy into the human psyche. Her plays have been presented, developed, and commissioned regionally by Active Cultures, the Hub Theatre, Inkwell, Intersections Art Festival, the Pittsburgh New Works Festival, Roundhouse Theatre’s First One-Minute Play Festival, The Source Theatre Festival, Spooky Action Theatre, and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. She is a company member the award winning the Hub Theatre in Fairfax, Virginia. Currently, Kristen is writing a play about mental illness called CRACKED POTS for Theatre J’s 2015 Locally Grown Festival. Her first historical fiction novel, Daughter of Sparta, is set to be released in 2014 by Zoozil Media. She teaches theatre at the University of Mary Washington. You can visit her website at kristenlepine.com.

Danielle Mohlman holds an MA in Theatre Studies from Emerson College. Recent credits include Nexus (Playwrights’ Arena) at Arena Stage as part of the Kogod Cradle Series, plays at the DC One Minute Play Festival, and Followed by a Sometime Cowboy at Forum Theatre’s Re(Acts). Other credits include Stopgap at the Capital Fringe Festival (Field Trip Theatre); Dust (The Inkwell and Artists’ Bloc) and Jim and Paul Meet in Dreams (Field Trip Theatre) at the Kennedy Center’s Page-to-Stage Festival; Apocalypse at the Atlas Intersections Festival; and John. John. John. at Station Nation — a festival honoring the victims of the Station nightclub fire in West Warwick, Rhode Island. Upcoming productions include For Emma with Pinky Swear Productions as part of the Tiny House Plays at Boneyard Studios, Nexus at Hubbard Hall, and Squares with dog & pony dc. Danielle is a member of the inaugural class of Playwrights’ Arena at Arena Stage, part of the New Play Institute.

Mary Resing is a national leader in the movement to create locally specific art and was recently profiled in Theatre Magazine. She has a B.A. from Spring Hill College in Alabama, an M.A. from NYU, and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. As a playwright, Mary’s work has ranged from the ten-minute Iraq War satire TWO WOMEN, produced by eXtreme eXchange at Round House Theatre in 2007, to the locally specific musical HANSEL AND GRETEL EAT CRABS produced the same year by Active Cultures Theatre at Joe’s Movement Emporium. More recently, Mary wrote the one-act plays NEVER HAVE I EVER and FACELESS produced as part of HellSpawn, an annual production of works inspired by local ghost stories. In October 2014 Visible Language, Mary’s signed/spoken musical about Edward Miner Gallaudet, Alexander Graham Bell, Helen Keller and the fight for control of deaf communication, will be produced by WSC Avant Bard and Gallaudet University.

Noelle Vinas is an actress, playwright, slam poet. She is also the resident theater arts teacher and director at Annandale High School with FCPS and the Dramatists Guild Ambassador for the DC Area with rep Gwydion Suilebhan. Previous projects include acting in Capitol Fringe 2014 as Mercutio in R+J Starcross’d Death Match and a workshop of her play APOCALYPSE, PLEASE with the Inkwell in the 2013 Page-to-Stage Festival at the Kennedy Center. NEVERMIND, her play about college drinking and dysfunctional relationships, was developed and produced by Atomic Age Theater (Boston) in April 2013. Emerson College B.A. Acting & Playwriting 2013. Twitter: @emphaticstate.

Anu Yadav is critically-acclaimed actress, playwright and teaching artist dedicated to fun and social transformation. Her devised projects include ‘Capers, Classlines, and Meena’s Dream. She is a 2014 DC Artist Fellow and holds a M.F.A. degree in Performance from University of Maryland, College Park. www.anuyadav.com.

Dramaturg bios

Laura Esti Miller is a dramaturg, writer, educator, and occasional performer. She is the Literary Manager for Forum Theatre, a Partner-in-Ink with Inkwell Theatre, and an educator to students from elementary school to college in the DC area. Raleigh-based company Urban Garden Performing Arts produced her co-created dance-theatre piece, Mark Twain’s Joan of Arc, in both 2012 and 2013. Laura is the former Creative Development Director of the off-Broadway company Electric Pear Productions, and has had the honor of working with The Public Theater, The Kennedy Center, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Pinky Swear Productions, The Princess Grace Awards, and Rorschach Theatre, among others. She is a graduate of Brooklyn College and James Madison University.

Hannah Hessel Ratner is the Audience Enrichment Manager at the Shakespeare Theatre Company. At STC, she runs the Creative Conversations discussion series which includes a range of discussion formats, her publications, discussions and teaching help provide a bridge between audience and artists. She also oversees the free monthly performance series Happenings at the Harman, which brings music, dance and theatre over a happy hour drink. She has been an ensemble member at Forum Theatre for nearly a decade where she has production dramaturged a wide variety of plays. In 2011, she founded the Project Gym, a center for creative development. She is the former Literary Director, Outreach and Education Associate at Theater J. She serves as a vice president on the board of the Association of Jewish Theater. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, she holds an MFA in dramaturgy from Columbia University.

Actresses bios

Lolita-Marie (Actress) Two-time W.A.T.C.H. Award winner (Lead and Cameo), Lolita-Marie is honored to be able to support this effort. She holds the heartfelt belief that every woman should be able to freely, privately, and safely make her own choice. Recent credits include Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls, Pearl Cleage’s Blues for an Alabama Sky (Ruby Griffith 2nd Runner Up), Bruce Norris’s Clybourne Park, Jack Sharkey’s While the Lights Were Out, and Jacqueline Lawton’s The Hampton Years.

Patricia Dugueye (Actress) is a regional actor who works on projects in the acting, voice-over and commercial print areas. She has appeared in several theatrical and film productions. Roles include a minister’s wife in BET’s Multitude of Mercies, diverse characters in the American Century Theatre’s production of Spoon River Anthology and recent reenactments a civil rights freedom riders and Sojourner Truth. When not performing, she is an environmental activist. She is exploring the use of performance arts as a vehicle to foster greater awareness about environmental issues impacting diverse communities.

Amal Saade (Actress) is thrilled to work on this exciting project with Advocates for Youth. Previous acting credits include work with Theater J, Gala Hispanic Theatre, Olney Theatre Center, Source Theatre Festival, Young Playwrights’ Theater, and Grain of Sand Theatre. Amal is a faculty member in The Theatre Lab School of the Dramatic Arts’ Life Stories program and believes strongly in the power of theater to share our stories and bring us closer together. Thanks to Jacqueline and Marie for this opportunity!

Jennifer Speerstra (Actress) is a Mom to the most fantastic 2 year old on the Planet, and has been acting professionally for the past 15 years. She is a Board Member for the Molotov Theatre Company, and is very excited to be here today! A few of her recent favorite roles have been: Calpurnia in Molotov Theatre’s Julius Ceasar, Bernice in American Century Theatre’s Stage Door, Magenta in Landless Theatre’s Rocky Horror Show, Governor Barracuda in Diamond Dead at the NYC Fringe Festival and Goldfinger in The Von Pufferhutte Family Singers for The Capital Fringe Festival. Be sure to catch her in Molotov Theatre’s Margins in April! www.molotovtheatre.org