“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.