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OUT OF SILENCE by Serena Ainslie, Shanley Huckabee, Chase Riley, and Alexa Levitt

Posted by on Friday, March 2, 2018 in 1010 blog posts, .

 

On Tuesday February 20th, 2018, The One in Three Campaign put on Out of Silence in Neely Auditorium in front of various Vanderbilt students, faculty, and staff. The performance was a series of readings and short plays about individual’s experience with abortions. It was put on by Vanderbilt students and other members of the greater Nashville community and featured announcements and short speeches given from different organizations like Planned Parenthood and Act Like a Grrl. The audience similarly included both Vanderbilt students and other members of the Nashville community. The dialogue below took place in the lounge on the first floor of Alumni Hall. The students who participated were Serena Ainslie (SA), Shanley Huckabee (SH), Chase Riley (CR), and Alexa Levitt (AL). Serena is a sophomore from Palm Beach, Florida who is majoring in American Studies with a concentration in Racial and Environmental Justice. She loves travel, the environment, and coffee. Shanley is a sophomore from Dallas, Texas who is majoring in Human Organizational Development with a concentration in International Leadership and Development. She loves water sports, board games, and animals. Chase is a sophomore from Charlotte, NC who is majoring in Medicine, Health, and Society and minoring in Spanish and Business. She enjoys scuba diving, playing field hockey, and listening to music. Alexa (AL) is a sophomore from Long Island, New Work who is majoring in Human Organizational Development with a concentration in Community Leadership and Development. She loves food blogging, photography, and reading.

 

AL: Okay so should we start by discussing the configurations of the show and how…

 

SA: (interrupts, cocks head to the right) Like the format?

 

AL: Yeah.

 

SA: (leans back in chair) I thought it was cool how it was structured into small, 5 minute plays so that it wasn’t just one person’s experience with abortion but rather you saw a variety of experiences that people had in a variety of different ways. Obviously, some people were students performing other people’s work. Then you had Rebecca Wells (counting on her fingers), the author, playwright, and actress, who at the beginning was performing her own work. Then, you had people from different organizations like the One and Three Campaign (adds a finger) or Cynthia Harris from Act Like a Grrl (adds a finger). All those different perspectives came together to give a holistic view (makes a circling gesture with her hands) of people’s experiences rather than a one sided, universal experience, which I thought was really important.

 

SH: Yeah, I agree. Something I thought was cool was that they portrayed the situations in a positive way, like the one story where a woman and a man decided to have an abortion together and they ended up having kids down the road and staying together. You always hear stories of people having abortions and breaking up and it being bad for relationships, not just yourself, and that was a good example of positivity within a relationship.

 

SA: Definitely.

 

CR: Yeah I agree (touches mouth); I feel like it was a really unique performance because it showed some positive sides to it, especially the aftermath. There’s such a stigma towards abortion and the show was really working against that stigma. It also showed, sort of like what Serena was saying (points to Serena), a very diverse group of people were doing the skits. There was one about a transgendered person, a lesbian couple, it was a very diverse group of people doing the skits which I thought was cool.

 

AL: I think the diversity of the stories and the people definitely brought the point home and allowed all the different audience members to understand it. I also thought the women who read from her novel…

 

SA: (interrupting) Yeah, Rebecca Wells

 

AL: I thought that was really cool.

 

CR: She did a really good job of telling a story and just the way that she told it was really inspiring.

 

SH: I wish that a more diverse audience would have been there, though. It was obvious that it was largely made up our theatre class and people in Women and Gender Studies classes. I just wish that people who haven’t been exposed to these ideas before or have a very different viewpoint were present.

 

CR: I feel like this show in particular just was not publicized across campus at all (shaking head) because I wouldn’t have known about it if it wasn’t for theatre. I usually know about these kinds of events or at least see a flyer, but I just didn’t notice any real advertising.

 

SA: This show in particular would have been a good one for people with different views to attend. Like Shanley said (points to SH), I’m sure most people in the audience had a similar viewpoint, but I think that they did a really good job at the beginning of the performance with that meditation by Lyndsey Godwin where she opened up the space. She talked about why even though she’s a very religious person, she is accepting of people’s choices to get abortions and I thought the way she framed it and invited the audience to be open minded and put those hesitations aside to let people share their experiences was something that, if I held a different viewpoint, would have made me felt more comfortable listening to and understanding these people’s experiences. Me and Chase talked about this afterwards; we were saying it’s always that the people who need to be there the most aren’t the ones in the audience, but that was a really good way to start it and level the playing field to make sure everyone was on the same page.

 

AL: I also think that even though there should have been a more diverse audience there, if it were a huge lecture and so many types of people were there, I don’t know if it would have had the same comfort and intimacy. Especially when thinking about the audience as a performer and the effect the audience has on the experience.

 

SH: (nodding, leaning in towards the table) That’s true, very true.

 

AL: I don’t know but maybe that was intentional on their part.

 

CR: Yeah, having it in Neely Auditorium, where there is a smaller stage instead of Ingram Hall, where American Idiot was put on, definitely said something.

 

SH: It was a very intimate experience. There was no fancy lighting, no fancy sound. It was raw for raw emotions, and maybe that’s what they were going for.

 

SA: Definitely.

 

CR: I also think that the actors were so amazing and I wasn’t expecting that because I remember Professor Essin said that she would give anyone extra credit that wanted to do a reading at Out of Silence.

 

AL: Really?

 

SH: Oh my gosh, I remember that!

 

CR: Yeah and I was sort of considering it. I thought I could use some extra credit and the actually watching the performance, I thought, wow they are really great and I could not have done that. I thought they definitely helped drive the point home through their acting.

 

SA: Definitely. Going back to of rawness of it, I liked that there was such minimal movement and staging. There was one performance in particular, where Diana Grisanti, the women who was sitting on the side of the stage reading the stage directions, was reading for the majority of the play about what the actors would have been doing. Having two actors just standing there and not moving was cool because it didn’t distract us from the words that they were saying or the story they were telling. At the time I thought it was weird that they made the choice to just stand there and have someone read the stage directions rather than actually act them out but in the end, I thought it added to that rawness and power of the stories.

 

SH: The actors and actresses would do small gestures that I didn’t think were scripted which allowed them to have creativity too. It would never be anything big… (turns to SA) didn’t one of them get slapped or something? Yeah it was a slapping motion and it was just playful between the two of them that allowed them to have creativity.

 

*AL nods head in agreement*

 

CR: Yeah, I’m wondering if Out of Silence was put on like an actual play if that would have changed the effect that it had because I feel like since it was in the skit form it was a little more realistic because it was casual encounters but I wonder if it was a full on production if that would change things.

 

AL: I think it felt like a series of personal stories rather than it being a production. I feel like if they were to do all of the motion and all of that then it would have been staged.

 

CR: It felt more real because it was casual.

 

*everyone nods head in agreement*

 

SH: And I think if they had done a production that couldn’t have covered as vast as many stories.

 

CR: Yeah because a lot of them were…

 

SH: (interrupting) Even though they could’ve dove into them deeper there would’ve been missing scenarios like… Wasn’t the very last one the transgender one that was added? The one by Diana Grisanti.

 

SA: Right, yeah.

 

SH: And it says that was a new addition to the play so they really did have the intentions of representing as many perspectives as possible because if you’re gonna write a new story and produce it for this play it was obviously intentional.

 

AL: I also think the whole idea of them being short is that it doesn’t really matter the in’s and out’s of the specific scenarios. It’s more about the theme and how they’re all connected rather than the nuances of the story.

 

*SH nods in agreement, SA cocks her head*

 

SH: It’s more quantity over quality.

 

SA: I mean…

 

*SA has a puzzled look on her face*

 

SH: Not quality of the acting but showing that there’s a lot of scenarios where people end up happy.

 

SA: (motioning with her hands) Yeah… I think that definitely was the goal.. And Dr. Essin even said this before last skit when she came up to the stage and said ‘we added this because we were lacking a trans perspective that we thought was important.’ So definitely the goal was to show a lot of different perspectives but I do think that they had “nuance” (makes air quotes) per say. It wasn’t like, ‘I got an abortion and I’m so happy or I got an abortion and–’

 

CR: (interrupting) There were other struggles going on.

 

SA: Yeah, they did a good job of representing that.

 

CR: Because I feel like you can’t just look at the outcome like oh they’re happy or sad there’s so much else that goes on in the process and there’s so many other struggles and each situation is so different that I feel like it’s really important to show all those different stories and scenarios. Did you guys have a favorite or one that interested you the most?

 

SH: I liked the first one about two girls that went to UT. If any of these scenarios were to relate to me it would be this one, because they were in college and in a sorority, and they were best friends going through it together. That one I could relate to and because it was a position I could see myself in. But I think a lot of the other ones didn’t necessarily relate to me but did to other people, which is important.

 

CR: I think the audience had empathy for the performers because through their emotions and story telling, you could see the difficulties they were wrestling with.

 

SA: Yeah, it’s interesting to think about which skits different people in the audience related to. The one that, weirdly enough, that I not necessarily related to but I think about what I would do in that situation was the one where the two women were sitting in the diner and with all those protestors outside and the woman who was there to get an abortion was feeling very judged by her friend that came with her and kept saying you don’t support me in this decision–

 

AL: (interrupting) She didn’t want to talk about it.

 

SA: Right. And I was thinking that she felt like her friend was judging her and I thought that was interesting because I was thinking that these stories are doing a really good job of showing the perspective of the person who is having the procedure done but it’s a really interesting thing to think about being the person who’s there supporting you and I was thinking about some of my closest friends and some of them are pro-life and I was thinking what a weird position that would be for them to want to support me as one of their good friends but also I would be doing something that they didn’t–

 

CR: (interrupting) Right, not the decision that you were making.

 

SA: Yeah, that’s a really interesting thing to think about and not something that I personally… I’m definitely pro-choice so I think that I would struggle to see it from their eyes. That one just made me think a lot I guess.

 

*SH and AL turn to look at CR as she shares her opinion*

 

CR: This isn’t the one that I related to at all but I just thought this one was very interesting and unique and I wasn’t expecting them to have one like this. The one where the woman went in to talk to her banker or some sort of financial person and he was the one who ended up convincing her to have the abortion and I just thought that was such an interesting scenario because it was so unexpected in a way.

 

AL: (interrupting) I think the purpose of it was to show that you didn’t need to have a person that you were close to to make your decision it was kind of her bouncing her ideas off of him.

 

*SA has a moment of enlightenment and resonates with AL’s thought*

 

CR: Right. And I think that it was also to show that she had already made up in her mind her decision and she needed someone to sort of affirm it and say you’re making the right decision so I feel like that was speaking more about her but he was just an interesting outside character…

 

SA: I also liked that one because it took a very heavy subject and made it light-hearted. That one was funny, everyone was laughing at a certain point.

 

CR: (interrupting) It’s not something that you would think about and tell your bank teller and confide in him.

 

SA: Yeah exactly, it was just a funny scenario. I liked that because a lot of them were similarly… not necessarily super heavy but you know, you’re talking about a topic that’s difficult to discuss so it was good that they, or I like that they, incorporated some that were a little more light-hearted to mix things up.

 

*there is a pause in the conversation as SH looks for the next question*

 

SH: So why do y’all think they did this production now on Vanderbilt’s campus and what does it say about where we live and what time we live in?

 

SA: Well first of all the statistic 1 in 3 is what this performance is named after.

 

AL: (interrupting) That’s crazy.
SA: Yeah. Crazy. We are on a college campus this is absolutely a statistic that affects all of us. We all know women who have had or will have abortions. So, I think that unfortunately this isn’t something that is really talked about at Vandy. This is the first performance, or even discussion, that I have had here about abortions.

 

AL: (nodding head) Yeah, me too. And as we were saying before, this was such a low key performance.

 

CR: (moving hands as she speaks) Yeah, I feel like Vanderbilt does a good job opening up discussion of controversial issues. But, abortion is not one of those issues that is often brought up. In high school, obviously abortion was never something that we discussed. College is a more progressive education for me, but I still have never had the opportunity to talk about it.

 

SH: I think it’s concerning because we get sexual assault emails so often. They inform us about resources like the PCC, but what about abortion and rape? With regard to Planned Parenthood, I didn’t know that was around for 100 years. They are being challenged enough now that I cannot even begin to imagine how it was received in the early 1900s. I think that we are at a point where there should not be so much backlash against abortion, especially if this has been a discussion that has been occurring for so long.

 

CR: I think that is because of the political environment right now. It is even more important to have these discussions because they are so relevant today.

 

SA: Also during the show, Shawn Reilly was discussing an incident at Vanderbilt that they experienced. They drove a student and her boyfriend to Planned Parenthood. This was only a few years ago.

 

AL: (lifts head up) They didn’t even know the girl. And she didn’t feel comfortable asking anyone else, who she knew, to drive her.

 

SH: (motioning with hands) It is so sad that there is such discomfort that exists around this. There is such a lack of transparency that exists here. There should be open conversations around this. That story really stuck with me. Especially considering how emotional that process is. Not having someone that you trust and not being able to use any of the resources that are provided to us by Vanderbilt.

 

AL: I also think that the education on Vanderbilt’s resources often stops at the information that they exist. For example, at the bottom of all of the emails that we get, it informs us that the PCC is available and that we can make appointments there. It requires strength and a friend to bring you there.

 

SH: That’s what surprised me about that statistic. If it is really 1 in 3, I should know, and probably do know so many people who have had and will have abortions. There’s so much shame that goes along with it. Yes, it is private information, but…

 

AL: (shaking head) It is private, but it shouldn’t be shameful.

 

SA: (lifts hands up to speak) As I said, I am super accepting- pro-choice- for sure. When Rebecca Wells came on stage and said outright that she has had two abortions, I was shocked. I have never heard someone come out and say that. People that I know probably would not feel comfortable sharing that with me. That really proves that there is a stigma around abortion.

 

CR: (nods head in agreement) It also shows how much farther we need to progress as a society. As a person who is pro-choice, I was still shocked. So, I can’t even imagine how someone at the opposite end of the spectrum might feel. I also think it is interesting to think about all of the different backgrounds of people attending the show.

 

AL: (reaching hand out towards CR) Right, for all of the cultural context sheets we always discuss how we all come from different backgrounds and have different perspectives. So, we all interpret things differently. For this show specifically, background and beliefs play an important role on perspective.

 

CR: Do you guys have any stories about your background that contribute to your interpretation of the performance?

 

SH: I come from a very conservative background. I feel really torn about it, because I am definitely pro-choice. But at the same time, if I were to have one I don’t think I would feel comfortable telling people. There are people who have such strong opinions about it and truly believe it to be murder. I don’t want to be seen as a murderer. I can see both perspectives. I see why people think that way, but I personally believe that woman should be able to control their own bodies and make their own decisions. Coming to school in a liberal place, as compared to my conservative background, I have to reconcile with these contrasting perspectives. It’s a confusing territory.

 

AL: It’s interesting because I come from a… my home town is just as liberal as Vandy, but people still don’t talk about this kind of stuff. I don’t think it’s just because we’re in high school or too young to talk about it. I think it’s just not spoken about.

 

CR: (nodding, pointing to AL) Right. It’s seen as very taboo and something that’s just brushed under the table and people don’t wanna go into it. Even my background had very conflicting sides because my family is very socially liberal but some of my friends’ families aren’t at all. I vividly remember being at UVA at a sports camp with my friend and her mom. They’re very catholic and… have their own beliefs (brushing away hand motion), but we walked by these pro choice protesters and the mom said “Girls, look away”…

 

SA: (leans in, rests head on hand) Wow.

 

CR: Yeah, it was very shocking, because…

 

AL: (interrupting, cocks head) How old were you?

 

CR: I think I was in seventh grade? I didn’t even really understand the issue but I still remember that moment because I knew enough to understand how different that perspective was from that of my families. So I agree, I have these people in my life who I love and care about who have these different opinions, which can be hard to manage.

 

SH: And I think this is why they chose to tell it on stage. We could sit down and have a conversation about it, but I think putting it on stages really brings it to life.

 

SA: (nodding) Yeah, that’s one of the functions of theatre. It takes a lot of different themes that are relevant to so many different people and puts them in a context that makes it easier to talk about because in a sense, we’re talking about these fictional skits. Obviously for some people these are their real experiences, but framing the issue in a way that removes it from your individual experience makes it easier to talk about in a lot of ways because you can talk about it in a less personal way?

 

AL: It opens the floor and makes it easier to discuss.

 

SA: Yeah, you can reference these other experiences that you saw on stage and discuss the issue without necessarily having to talk about your personal experience, which is something that a lot of people struggle with.

 

AL: And with any show, after you leave you’ll talk about it with whoever you’re with. So what was your guys’ experience after this performance? Did you all discuss it?

 

SA: Yeah, we did (points to CR and then herself).

 

SH: I found it really uplifting. I had more of a debrief, and talked about how it was really great to hear those stories and get that different point of view. I think being exposed to a new point of view in any way is positive, and that’s why I think the Vanderbilt community at large could benefit from this. They don’t have to change their minds on abortion, but–

 

CR: (interrupting) They’ll just become more educated. That’s never gonna hurt.

 

SA: I also- I’m just looking at this list of questions and I’m thinking about this one, “Did the story told by the production remind me of other stories I’ve encountered in other forms like novels, movies, tv, etc.?” and in thinking about that, I’ve decided it really didn’t.

 

AL: (interrupting, nodding) Right. That’s kind of the point.

 

SA: (gesturing towards AL) Exactly. I haven’t experienced and other performance or art…

 

CR: (interrupting, hand on temple) I’m trying to think of some sort of movie or TV show that’s talked about abortions.

 

AL: Well the woman who read first has a series of books about it. I’d be interested to look further into those.

 

SH: I think some of these types of novels or productions could get banned from schools.

 

SA: (turns to CR) Isn’t that so messed up?

 

SH: I don’t know since we’re only two years into college we’ve only had so much time that not banned books could have been assigned to us, and abortion is something that is so controversial that schools might avoid assigning books on the subject. You know? And because of that, you don’t grow up thinking it’s an option. You grow up thinking that…

 

SA: I’m not even thinking just about books we read in school. I’m thinking about even in popular culture. Think of all of the different controversial things that have been shown on TV and in movies and it’s pretty surprising there isn’t something about this. Like, I’m sorry, the 50 Shades series exists, and people feel comfortable talking about that.

 

*SH laughs, SA smiles*

 

SA: Obviously that’s not the same at all, but what I’m saying is we’re in a point in time where the media is showing themes and concepts that make some people feel uncomfortable, and society is becoming more open to having more difficult conversations. There’s a long way to go, but popular culture and the media definitely are shifting to try to portray and represent more diverse perspectives and life experiences, so it is a little surprising popular culture isn’t shedding more light on this really important subject. This isn’t really an issue that’s surfaced in the same way that others have.

 

CR: And this is one that should be included.

 

AL: Also a lot of the time with controversial issues, the voices you do hear in the media are the two extremes. (hands gesturing to either side, representing “two extremes”) So you don’t have as much of a representation of the middle or more nuanced experiences.

 

SA: That’s so true. It’s very polarizing.

 

CR: I’m wondering now where we go next with this. When will this be something that is talked about more and how do we make it less of a taboo issue? Do you guys have any thoughts?

 

SH: I think you need to have people show support, and put on productions like these…

 

SA: And speaking to what Alexa said about how polarizing these conversations can be, creating a more accepting middle ground and a space where people feel comfortable talking about their experiences and obviously we all have different platforms that we can do that on. But personally, in daily conversations with friends, if pro-choice, pro-life comes up, I definitely want to challenge people to think about more sides to the story and bring in the stories that were told in Out of Silence. Definitely trying to discourage that “one side is right, one is wrong” mentality.

 

AL: I think one thing we did well in this discussion was that we recognized our own views and previous experiences that shaped those, like both of you talking about your liberal stance in a conservative hometown. Being able to recognize that and then still be open to hearing other people’s beliefs is a way of showing that it doesn’t have to be so polarizing.

 

SH: That’s definitely something that’s relevant today.

 

SA: Definitely relevant to our experiences as college women, too.

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7 Comments on “OUT OF SILENCE by Serena Ainslie, Shanley Huckabee, Chase Riley, and Alexa Levitt”

This dialogue really resonated with me through the way that Serena, Alexa, Chase, and Shanley emphasized the role that different backgrounds and perspectives play in this production, both through the diversity of the stories and the way it is perceived by different audience members. Despite being pro-choice, I grew up in a very Catholic, conservative environment. During the production, a couple of the performers growing up in similar and religious environments, which enabled me to really relate to the production and feel more understood as an audience member. Like Serena, Alexa, Chase, and Shanley stressed in the dialogue, productions like these are so important for opening up the conversation about controversial issues like abortion, especially for people like me who were never really exposed to both sides of the story growing up. The series of short stories and skits further helped me understand the multidimensionality of abortion, and how it is not always as black and white as people sometimes make the topic seem. I connected a lot with the first story, Rebecca Wells’s reading from her book, because the main character grew up in a family similar to mine, in which abortion is not really accepted or discussed. I found this story very disturbing and sad, yet a great portrayal of how pretending like abortion does not exist leaves many women hopeless and without anywhere to go when they are met with an unexpected pregnancy. I think the fact that this came first really set the stage for the rest of the production, as it made the topic a lot more real and relevant to me, since abortion was not discussed at all at my high school unless it was being condemned. Overall, I think this production was a great example of the way that our background affects our perception of performances as critics, like we often talk discuss in class.

Caroline Wharton on March 10th, 2018 at 2:51 pm

One of the conversations in this dialogue that really resonated with me was about the ‘rawness’ of the production. I also found that the minimalistic ‘set’ of Out of Silence made it more of an intimate, raw experience. I agree that Neely Auditorium helped facilitate this type of feeling, since it is a small theatre in which the audience is very close to the performers on stage. The emotions portrayed in each short play were also very raw. Abortion stories were not glamorized nor did they leave out personal, negative details. I think each play did a great job in conveying real, raw experiences of individuals or hypothetical situations that seemed so real. While certain plays were more relatable than others, the ones that were chosen for this performance gave the audience a glimpse of various outcomes, struggles, and experiences with abortions. The last play from a trans perspective stood out the most to me. I thought the addition of this portion was really eye-opening since it is a perspective that is often overlooked and not thought about. Furthermore, even though the topic was serious and controversial, many of the plays( especially the last one) were very light-hearted and often funny: this aspect was pretty refreshing given the nature of this performance.
After attending this performance, I was also thinking about who was in the audience. As you guys discussed, it seems that most of the audience was either a Theatre student or Women’s and Gender studies student. Furthermore, the draw to a performance like this will mostly impact individuals who have a more open perspective. However, the individuals who need to be exposed to this type of performance may not realize this or would not want to expand their perspectives. Additionally, people who have polarizing perspectives such as pro-choice vs pro-life might are more apt to attend this performance compared to people who might not have a ‘black-or-white’ opinion. I am not quite sure how, but having some sort of incentive for attending Out of Silence might diversify the audience and make individuals who would benefit from exposure to these plays be more willing to go.

Emma Bernstein on March 11th, 2018 at 5:47 pm

The One and Three Campaign’s production of Out of Silence struck the perfect balance between theatrical performance and reality in order to foster abortion discussion even after the shows completion. The audience is informed to accept the theatrical readings as someone’s truth—the abortion narrative may or may not have been experienced by the performers themselves. This not only allowed the actors to freely read the abortion narratives without fear of judgment, but this also allowed the audience to connect to the story itself, not the appearance of the actor. Furthermore, this slight disconnect through narration invited the audience to outwardly react to the story: Serena states that “everyone was laughing at a certain point.” I would be hesitant to laugh if listening to a first-hand account. The audience’s genuine, sympathetic reactions to the performance, thus, made the energy of Neely Auditorium real. Also, choosing the performance to be showcased in Neely, a smaller and more sentimental auditorium where the audience surrounds the stage in a discussion-like circle, also aided the feeling of abortion as a conversation, rather than the feelings of traditional performance. Shanley agrees that “it was a very intimate experience. There was no fancy lighting, no fancy sound. It was raw for raw emotions, and maybe that’s what they were going for.” Through these strategic production choices, discussing abortion issues after the shows completion was easy, knowing that the interaction between real stories from the performers and authentic reactions from the audience was an experiential truth. Fostering abortion conversation today is critical because of the strong stigmatization against abortion despite the perception of a tolerant social climate. For example, on Vanderbilt’s campus where abortions are frequent, abortion is scarcely discussed. Abortion conversation needs to be discussed more frequently in order to bring awareness, decrease stigmatization, and educate people on a critical issue that does not receive enough attention despite its prevalence.

Sarah Stukalin on March 13th, 2018 at 3:26 pm

Chase, Serena, and Shanley assert that the point of the production was to portray the aftermath of abortion in a positive light and end the stigma of abortion. The program text refers to how many of the stories in Out of Silence come from the 1 in 3 campaign that seeks to end the stigma of abortion. One story ended on a positive note when a woman got an abortion and, years later, had married a man and had kids. Chase, Serena and Shanley’s argument is supported. Serena, Shanley, Chase and Alexa discussed how the diversity of stories would have allowed a diverse audience to really understand the situations that women face when getting an abortion. The stories ranged from lesbian couples, to a raped trans man, to a young girl named Blaze who got an abortion: the stories were indeed quite diverse. In the process, Serena, Shanley, Alexa and Chase build on each other’s ideas and come to conclusions about the effectiveness of the production at reaching its goals. For example, Shanley mentions how the spectators lacked diverse viewpoints and Alexa offers an explanation that the production of Out of Silence put forth little advertising. Alexa was right when she gave the explanation of little advertising. It is a shame as the diverse amount of stories would have allowed a diverse audience, which is what the production wanted, to really empathize with those who obtain abortions. It would have impacted a diverse audience also because the close quarters setting gave the audience (including myself) a sense of comfort and because the staged reading method, instead of a full blown production, also made the stories seem more realistic and less like performances.

Gregory White on March 13th, 2018 at 6:12 pm

This dialogue provides a persuasive argument about the importance of broadening the conversation about abortion on Vanderbilt’s campus. I agree wholeheartedly with this assertion. They claimed that the show would have had a larger audience if it had been advertised more thoroughly, and admitted that that may have been a downfall of the production. I had trouble seeing this same pattern – the house was packed, and I saw posters marketing the event weeks before hand.
The group also made sure to emphasize the effect that the performance had on them – uplifting and inspiring them as women – and commented on what aspects of the performance made it so impactful. They attributed the show’s success to its small, disjointed scenes rather than an overall plot-line. They claimed that this format helped the show demonstrate numerous scenarios in which abortion could help, rather than hurt, an individual within their career, social sphere or family life. I agree with this analysis. The small scenes kept the energy up throughout the show, and allowed the audience to see all of the possible positive scenarios that can occur as a result of an abortion. Choosing to be pro-choice opens up a world of possibilities for a woman who may not be physically or emotionally ready for the responsibility of a baby, and this show made that statement clearer than ever.
The girls also noted their own personal experience with their families’ beliefs and political standpoints. Chase discusses her turmoil over being from a conservative family, but actively choosing to be pro-choice. I relate to this conflict; if my family was aware of my position on abortion, it would start a never ending argument. I enjoyed how the girls spoke from their personal experiences and really engaged with the production. It proves that the performance did what it intended to do: to make people think, open their minds and reevaluate their assumptions.

Mckenzie Marshall on March 14th, 2018 at 12:08 am

This discussion really outlined many of my points regarding the production. At the beginning of the show, I immediately felt welcome when Lyndsey Godwin led the initial meditation to make the space open and safe. That really set the tone of the rest of the performance, and I loved the simplistic and intimate atmosphere of the night. Like Chase, Serena, Shanley, and Alexa discussed, the placement of the production in Neely Auditorium allowed it to be incredibly intimate and make the words more powerful. In terms of the dialogue itself, I really appreciated their discussion of their past experiences and how it shaped their viewpoint regarding the production. This assignment asks us to provide a small (few sentence) biography in the first paragraph, but really it just comes out to being your major, where you’re from, and your hobbies. I think that, especially for this production, your past experiences, religion, and culture of your hometown and family environment is so very important to take into consideration and to discuss. I really appreciated that they went into that, and played Devil’s Advocate even though they all held the same pro-choice standpoint. I can really relate to Shanley because I also grew up in a very conservative home town and currently identify as a Catholic. It is difficult because I maintain my religion because it is comforting to me, but I am certainly pro-choice. I think a lot of times people assume that every Catholic is pro-life, but there are always exceptions and it’s important to address that. I thought they all did a wonderful job of trying to see multiple perspectives and imagine themselves in the shoes of somebody who does not agree with abortions. I also agree that I wish there was a larger audience, because I really think these performances would have benefitted a lot of the Vanderbilt community. It is so important to open discussion about this matter, because the more it is silenced the more stigmatized it becomes and the further we get from realizing that women do have a choice.

Julie Conrad on March 14th, 2018 at 10:43 pm

This discussion brought up some intriguing points. Unlike many of the people that saw this production, I am pro-life and had a very different perspective than most. I agree that this production presented many different situations in which abortions occur, but I would have liked to have seen at least one situation in which the actors chose life. I believe without that side represented, the issue becomes simplified and still all situations are not represented. Many women are in a situation where they may be considering an abortion and this production only showed those who chose to get the abortion.

I connected with the part of this dialogue where Serena, Shanley, Alexa, and Chase talked about the raw emotions that the production presented. I agree that the staged reading of it helped provide a more intimate setting for these emotions to be exposed. It created a safe environment and I believe that is a huge reason why this play was presented now. All though I am pro-life, I do not dismiss the pain and the emotions that these women who get abortions go through. The women are never to blame; it is the society that has put them in this situation and I feel like this play helped show that. It was very hard for me to watch this production with an open-mind and try set aside my moral obligation when writing this response because I know this is not the place and not what this assignment is about. This production was about opening conversation about abortion and I believe that needs to be done and it would be nice if all sides were represented. I believe that this would help get the diverse audience that Serena, Chase, Shanley, and Alexa were talking about.

Madeline Oberfoell on March 16th, 2018 at 12:28 pm

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