The local Philadelphia theater company Lightning Rod Special has announced a new play it will debut in August…a musical comedy about abortion. From Philadelphia Magazine:

The abortion musical has its roots at the Pig Iron School for Advanced Performance Training, where [co-creator Alice] Yorke and the co-creators studied. Yorke says it was there that she developed a character of an “irate gun-toting fetus running around and shouting about how it would kill anyone who tried to hurt it.”

In those early days, there was also a Busby Berkeley-inspired song-and-dance kick-line of fetuses, though Yorke isn’t sure that it will be included in the final version.

Yorke explained to the magazine that the musical is not “pro-choice propaganda” while co-creator Scott Sheppard assured readers that the group “pulled back a bit on the politics” in it:

“We’re definitely, as makers, on one side,” Yorke admits. “But we’re trying to ride a funny line. This isn’t self-congratulatory. I want us to examine why we feel this way. I want people to reckon with themselves. This is a show about personhood, the right to bodily autonomy, and the violence of the partisan politics that surrounds this issue.”

“We don’t wanna serve up this didactic play that pats liberals on the back,” insists Sheppard, 33, also of South Philadelphia. “Abortion is hard. One one side, you have people who think that murder is happening. On the other side, it’s people thinking about women’s health. This is already a terribly divided debate. We didn’t want to just add heat to that fire.”

Yorke told the magazine that the group had a hard time raising funds for the musical. She cried that “good, liberal foundations” turned them down and that everyone “is just so, so afraid to talk about abortion.”

Or maybe everyone knows that this isn’t a light issue that you can attach humor to? Just my two cents.

Oh, and the group cannot come up with a name for the musical:

“We were going with ‘Fetus Chorus,’” explains co-creator Alice Yorke, pictured below. “But there were a lot of mixed feelings about it. The best comment we got was, ‘I understand you want to provoke your audience, but do you want to do that in the theater or before they even get there?’”

Yorke, a 31-year-old South Philadelphia resident, tells Philly Mag that the company is currently debating other titles. Her favorite is “The A Word.” Others in the mix: “Baby Girl,” “Mine,” “Monster,” and “Wanted.”

Other Abortion Comedies

Unfortunately, this group is not the first to put inject humor into the abortion topic. D.C.-based Theatre Prometheus founder and artistic director Tracey Erbacher developed the idea for Abortion Road Trip after the presidential election. She tried to justify an abortion comedy because “[L]aughter is a positive tool” and that murdering unborn humans “doesn’t have to be tragic” or even “the most difficult choice a woman can make.” She continues:

Sometimes it can be funny.

Sometimes it can be serious.

Sometimes the choice is easy, or nuanced, or exactly right.

Our power as artists lies in the choices we make about the stories we want to tell. And now, right now, we think we all need a comedy about abortion.

In June, abortion advocate and author Sheri Flanders debuted her abortion comedy “Choice – The Musical” at MCL Chicago Comedy Theater. She also tried to persuade people why abortion needs a humorous angle:

Flanders said the idea for the abortion musical began as a “raunchy joke” with her peers, and she felt hesitant at first to write about such a controversial subject. Eventually, though, Flanders said she thought comedy would add something new to the abortion debate.

“Abortion is an issue that has no shortage of serious discussion,” she said. “We realized early on that we didn’t want to simply rehash the debates or have the audience leave the theater feeling that they had been preached to. We want people to feel entertained and elevated. Honestly, comedy is the only avenue left for a fresh take on the issue.”

She continued: “No matter what your politics are, everyone can relate to the feelings of the first time you have to stand up for yourself and put everything on the line. We poke fun at both liberals and conservatives equally …”