Jane play reading in Chicago on July 24!

Directed by Iris Sowlat, followed by "Never Go Back" panel
Monday, July 24 at 7:30 PM - 10 PM
To benefit the Chicago Abortion Fund

Pride Arts Center, Broadway Theater
4139 N Broadway St, Chicago, Illinois 60613

Buy tickets here

Facebook page for event here

This event is co-sponsored by the Chicago Area Women's History Center and Shout Your Abortion 773.

Play reading at 7:30pm. At 9 PM, panel, "Never Go Back (to When America Wasn't So Great Again)," featuring Jane member Jeanne Galatzer-Levy, pro-choice political expert Aileen Kim, playwright Paula Kamen, and moderated by Alicia Swiz. Reception to follow by the Chicago Area Women's History Center.

Featuring actors: Amber Ray Snyder, Anna Wolfe, Chloe Bluml, Caitlin McManus, Kaitlin Stewart, Shannon Webber, Whitney Pipes, Erin Caswell, Lyla Whedbee, and Zach Hebert

THE PLAY: In the current debate about abortion rights, we often forget how dangerous life was for women when abortion was illegal. But in Chicago at that time 45 years ago, women Chicago knew whom to call for help: Jane, the legendary feminist abortion service, also known as "the best-kept secret in Chicago."

From 1969 to 1972, women who ran “Jane” were mostly unassuming: college students, “hippie housewives,” and antiwar activists. But they led extraordinary double lives, running the most active underground abortion service in modern history, the one safe alternative for about 11,000 women from all backgrounds.

This play, based on original interviews with women who ran and used this service -- and men who supported it -- tells their story.

In the panel afterward, we will discuss how to never go back to those perilous days, when America, for women, really wasn't so great. We will focus on a very timely Illinois bill with that goal: House Bill 40, which will likely go to the governor for approval at the end of July. That bill would guarantee that Illinois, an enduring safe haven for choice for the entire Midwest region, uphold abortion rights if Roe v Wade is repealed.

The director, Iris Sowlat, is a proud company member at Pride Films & Plays. She is a Chicago-based director whose work focuses primarily on feminism, queerness, and (dis)ability. She is also an Artistic Associate at Stage Left Theatre. Iris has directed and/or assistant-directed for Pride Films & Plays, Stage Left Theatre, Broken Nose Theatre, 20% Theatre, The Chicago Fringe Festival, Fury Theatre, and Talif Productions. This summer, Iris is producing and curating SheFest at Pride Films & Plays, and writing and directing Narratives of Achromatopsia for the Chicago Fringe Festival, and will direct the short play Barbarism for Collaboraction's Peacebook festival.


LOCATION details: Play and panel at the Broadway theater of the Pride Arts Center, at 4139 N. Broadway. (Not their other nearby theater, the Buena, which has a different address). Suggested payment is $10, with half of proceeds going to Chicago Abortion Fund. Parking is very tough, even maddening, in that area, so we recommend public transportation.

THE PANEL: "Never Go Back to (When America Wasn't So Great Again)": Abortion Access and Feminist Resistance in the Trump Era," features
-- Jean Galatzer-Levy, a former member of Jane and one of the arrested "Abortion Seven"

--Aileen Kim is the outgoing co-chair of Personal PAC's Future Voices Council and associate at Civitas Public Affairs Group, where she works on campaigns focused reproductive rights and justice and women's equality.

--Alicia Swiz, also the MC, is a co-founder of Shout Your Abortion 773 (the Chicago chapter of Shout Your Abortion). She is the creator of Sluttalk, a conversation that raises awareness of slut shaming and encourages sex positivity through performances, workshops, public dialogues and social media.

--Playwright Paula Kamen, who also contributed research to the 1995 PBS documentary about Jane, is the author of four books, including All in My Head and Finding Iris Chang. Her papers from researching the Jane play are on file at the Special Collections Library at Nothwestern.


For supporting HB 40, we recommend visiting https://personalpac.org/take-action?2 for the latest updates, and PassHB40.com for volunteer opportunities (e.g. canvassing, phone banking, etc.).

Jane play offered for #togetherforabortion events

The play, about the legendary feminist underground Chicago abortion service, is available free of charge for activist events, It offers at least 9 diverse and substantial roles for women. Based on original interviews with women who ran and used the service, it tells the story of Jane, which was known as “the best kept secret in Chicago" and provided safe abortions to more than 10,000 women from all backgrounds from 1969 to 1973. It offers inspiration about the power of women organizing, but also warns about the harsh realities of illegal abortion, even in the most ideal DIY circumstances.

The play, which officially debuted in 1999 and has been excerpted in several “best of” stage scene and monologue books, has had about 20 readings and productions, mainly in fringe feminist theaters and at universities during the George W Bush years. Now, with abortion access under renewed threat, I"m relaunching this campaign, especially for the Roe anniversary in January 2018.

We recently had a sold-out reading of this play in Chicago last summer, co-sponsored by Shout Your Abortion 773 and the Chicago Women's History Center. More than a dozen colleges have also used it for successful events, such as at the University of California-Santa Barbara. Director Annika Spear, who also wrote an article about the feminist documentary style of the play for Frontiers, gave this recommendation:

“I directed Jane as a fundraiser event for the Santa Barbara Planned Parenthood and Pro-Choice Coalition’s Roe v Wade anniversary event. There were numerous merits to incorporating activist theatre into the event: It was an excellent way to get university students involved. By connecting the university to the event we were able to cross collaborate with the Feminist Studies Department and the Theater and Dance Department. Kamen’s multiple versions of the script as well as her “Student Organizing Guide” makes the play accessible to non-theatre practitioners. A major strength of this play is its activist potential! ”

For more info on play, see my Jane page or the listing on the National New Play Network. Email paulakamen@gmail.com for details or for a script.

Jane play now with National New Play Network

For more info on the play, its production and publication history and, a new testimonial about activist potential, go to the NPX website

Also feel free to email me at paulakamen[at]gmail.com about more info or obtaining a sample copy.

The play, based on original interviews with women who ran and used this legendary underground abortion service, is available as a full-length play and then in shorter student-adapted versions. It is available for no charge to theaters and student groups planning pro-choice fundraisers, especially for #togetherourabortion and #shoutyourabortion events. And especially for January events marking Roe v. Wade in the US and the Morgentaler decision in Canada.

“Jane” play featured in special “Roe v Wade” issue of feminist journal

Annika Spear, who was a co-director with the 2011 production of the play at the University of California Santa Barbara, writes in the new issue of Frontiers how the play shakes theatrical conventions by actually dramatizing an abortion on the stage, and by tweaking the “documentary play” format. A goal now for 2014 is to finally get this play published, after dozens of staged readings and productions, often by student groups who groove on the many roles for young women and the resonance of this story of underground abortion today.