“We are committed to community relationships that are transformative rather than transactional.”
“There’s power in honoring lived experiences, there’s power in giving voice to our own experiences and actually speaking that out loud. There’s so much shame and secrecy around reproductive justice and reproductive health and we want to help alleviate some of that stigma.”
That’s the idea behind “My Body No Choice,” a staged reading performance of monologues related to bodily autonomy. Hosted by the Open Theatre Project in Jamaica Plain on Nov. 5, the one-time performance will take place at 7pm at St. John’s Episcopal Church.
Beyond the play reading, there is time interspersed throughout for audience members to tell their own stories. Open Theatre Project aims to have people be able to hold space for one another at what’s billed as a community event.
Originating from Arena Stage in Washington, DC, these readings are intended to take place before the midterm elections. The performance involves eight monologues written by playwrights about either their own personal experiences related to bodily autonomy, or an experience of a close friend or family member.
The theater is often a place where society can reflect back on itself, maintaining an active role in politics and social issues. Open Theatre Project company member Christina Chan said the show “is a way of connecting everyone, because at the end of all the stories that people have, we’re all human, we all have the same emotions, we all have the same body.”
As for Open Theatre Project’s role in staging this performance, company member Alex Smith said, “We are committed to community relationships that are transformative rather than transactional.”
Though the main goal of this event is to encourage civic action and mobilization, Open Theatre Project also hopes to foster an environment of support and connection. Smith added, “There is an interpersonal, me-to-you, as people who are sharing this space together and holding this space for each other, that I hope will also come out of this.”
Karenna Umscheid is a journalist at Emerson College, focused on arts and culture reporting and film criticism. On campus, she's the Editor-in-Chief of WECB's Milk Crate, a music publication, and a writer and editor for Latent Images Magazine. Off-campus, her writing can also be seen in the Boston Hassle. In her free time, she enjoys watching horror movies, running, and perusing local bookstores.