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ICYMI: A is For Announces New Playwriting Contest


photo credit: Dianna Bush photography

A month ago, A is For, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing reproductive rights and ending the stigma against abortion care, held a benefit reading of Paula Kamen’s documentary play JANE: Abortion and the Underground and a reproductive rights talkback at Rattlestick in New York City.

The powerhouse cast was exemplary of female power, full of actresses who match their own artistry with activism.  Julie Kline directed Amy Berryman, Jeff Biehl, Brooke Bloom, Monique Coleman, Ana Gasteyer, Charlotte Graham, Jenn Lyon, Kathy Najimy, Cynthia Nixon, Jackie Sanders, Chris Stack and Carmen Zilles.

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photo credit: Dianna Bush photography

At the reading, A is For announced a new playwriting contest.

“The benefit reading of JANE: Abortion and the Underground was a huge success,” said Kellie Overbey, A is For Executive Director. “It was also a cautionary reminder that ‘past is prologue,’ and that returning to a time when abortion was illegal would be both tragic and untenable. The evening also launched A is For’s pilot playwriting contest about abortion and reproductive rights in which one-act plays will be solicited from all over the country reflecting the great variety of experiences that Reproductive Justice demands we all recognize.”

The A is For: Abortion contest will accept submissions November 1, 2019 through January 2020. Winning plays will be presented in an evening in the fall of 2020. For more info, please go to

Kamen’s thoroughly-researched and engrossing play was the perfect vehicle to announce the A is For: Abortion contest.  JANE: Abortion and the Underground looks at JANE, the legendary feminist abortion service in Chicago, which was a safe alternative for nearly 11,000 women seeking abortions from 1969 until 1972. The women who ran the service were college students, hippie housewives and anti-war activists, and they put their lives on the line to help other women in dire need.

“The benefit reading of JANE: Abortion and the Underground was a perfect convergence of play and moment: Paula’s play brings to life a crucial moment in reproductive history, and shows how women can come together to provide each other with rights, when the greater society is denying them,” remarked director Julie Kline.  “But while it celebrates the power of female collectives, it doesn’t provide rose-colored glass–it shows the realities of life when abortion was illegal, illustrating why we absolutely cannot go back.”

A post-reading panel discussion highlighted the perils that women and reproductive justice face more than 45 years after the ruling of Roe v. Wade. Pascale Bernard (Vice President of Public Affairs Planned Parenthood of New York City), playwright and journalist Paula Kamen, and reproductive rights historian Felicia Kornbluh (Professor of History and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, University of Vermont) were joined by women who had underground abortions referred by or related to JANE in the late 1960s: activist Sunny Chapman and Jackie.

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photo credit: Dianna Bush photography

Screen Shot 2019-10-24 at 2.35.17 PM

photo credit: Dianna Bush photography

And there is life after the benefit reading for JANE: Abortion and the Underground. The National New Play Network has recommended it as one of nine terrific plays on reproductive rights. The play is also set to receive additional readings around the country with various theater groups and at universities. That includes a series of readings at Connective Theatre in Chicago January 30 through February 1, 2020.

Kline believes that the play is “a tool to educate and empower, and it was perfect to use for a benefit reading for A is For, an organization who is on the ground today working to end stigma against abortion, and providing venues for creative women to come together to support each other and reproductive freedom.” For a full list of readings and additional information on JANE: Abortion and the Underground, visit Paula Kamen’s website.








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This entry was posted on October 24, 2019 by in Uncategorized.


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