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about the play

A photo of the inaugural reading of the wish. A row of actors with music stands sit in front of a yellow wall, decorated with pretty flags.

“the wish: a manual for a last-ditch effort to save abortion in the united states through theater” was started in the wake of SB8, a Texas law that allows individuals to sue other individuals in civil court for getting an abortion after 6 weeks. Effectively– an abortion ban in sneaky language. Texas’s turn towards vigilantism and the then impending Dobbs Supreme Court case pointed towards a post-Roe future, and left many of us disempowered, dispirited, and wondering: what could we do? What could theater do?

Co-author Justice Hehir received a Constitution Commission from Clubbed Thumb, Heidi Schreck, and the producers of “What the Constitution Means to Me” around the time SB8 took effect in fall 2021, and an idea was hatched: unprecedented times call for unprecedented theater. What about a play that could be performed anywhere? Dinner tables, dorm rooms, protests– free to access and use, a repository of information and humor in a dark historical moment. A rallying cry, a call to action, a reason to gather. A ready-made script for an uncomfortable, painful, and necessary conversation: what do we do now?

Working from this starting point, five playwrights- Justice Hehir, Dena Igusti, Phanesia Pharel, Nia Akilah Robinson, and Julia Specht- worked together to create what became the wish: a manual for a last-ditch effort to save abortion in the united states through theater* (*a free, downloadable, highly informative and v funny play/book of spells about the fact that we might lose abortion holy fuck this is not a drill).

Championed by New Georges (and hosted on their website), “the wish” is a play that can be added to, rearranged, and performed anywhere, from couches to stages to dorm rooms to protests– and enshrines critical abortion resources in the structure of the play. A provocation to laws like Texas and Oklahoma's that prohibit anyone from "encouraging" or "aiding and abetting abortion," the piece puts access to clinic finders and abortion pills on full display in the center of a piece of theater. Can a play "encourage" abortion? Can freedom of expression be stifled or limited because it "encourages" people to believe in their right to bodily autonomy?

Free to download, perform, and adapt, it is a radically accessible, living document meant to respond to the rapidly changing needs of a country in flux. A ritual and a theatrical event rolled into one, we developed a play to bring friends and communities together to learn about abortion and abortion rights– and to laugh. And release. And be nourished. And add to. We created a piece of theater that invites the creation of a thousand more pieces of theater. Abortion is a fundamental human right and an everyday experience for so many of us: it's high time our theatrical landscape reflected this.

So gather your friends, your colleagues, your family, your theater pals- and give this play a read. Put the kettle on. Toss it out and write your own. Read it around a cozy campfire. Add your own monologue. Insert your own dance number. Make it your own.

Whatever you do, however you do it, our hope for this play is simple: that it may give you a reason to gather. Incredible things happen when creative individuals spend time in proximity, discussing abortion, reproductive justice, and the future we deserve.

about the collective

After releasing the play, we felt compelled to continue our work exploring the role of theater in the fight for choice. The Monday after Roe fell, we held an open meeting for any interested theater makers to discuss how this new reality may particularly affect our community (lack of insurance, underinsured, working in different states, not making a living wage, etc.), and what theater makers and theater itself can uniquely offer in this moment. We had a small but motivated group show up– and The Wish Collective was born.

Stay tuned for our announcement of our 2022 endeavors, coming soon! A mix of initiatives aimed at improving theater makers’ access to reproductive healthcare and amplifying the voices of theater makers in total ban states, we're hoping to forge connection among playwrights across the country.

The 5 writers of the wish, standing with their arms around each other, smiling after the inaugural reading

Left to right: Dena Igusti, Julia Specht, Phanésia Pharel, Justice Hehir, Nia Akilah Robinson