The actress Alison Leiby, author and interpreter of Oh God, a Show about abortion, recounts his experience in a show as crude as it is full of self-mockery.
America is sinking deeper into the division over abortion. But on stage in New York, actress Alison Leiby makes people laugh at her own experience to lift taboos and defend this fundamental right. The subject is delicate, because abortion is not a trivial act. But on the boards of the Cherry Lane Theater, in Greenwich Village, we prefer to make fun of the adventures of a brunette in her thirties, with sparkling eyes behind her glasses, author and performer of Oh God, a Show about abortion (“My God, a show about abortion”). With a large dose of self-mockery, Alison Leiby portrays herself as a New York anti-heroine, far from any dream of motherhood, she who considers herself incapable of keeping her budget or growing a plant.
The audience, overwhelmingly female, burst out laughing at the story of her pregnancy test, “as positive as a test for Covid after a wedding in Florida”. Or that of her perplexity when, at the clinic where she is having an abortion, it is a question of hearing the possible heartbeat of the fetus, or of trying to know if “they are twins”.
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Abortion, a privilege
In this intimate story, actress Alison Leiby tries to play down things: her intervention went well, the days that followed too, without discomfort or guilt. “In popular culture, fiction or documentaries, I never hear about the abortion I had, which is something incredibly common, not traumatic, at least when it is authorized”told AFP the 38-year-old actress in her dressing room.
“I want to make you laugh” but “I also want to help people start talking about something difficult”she continues, conscious of having “lucky to be a white, heterosexual, cisgender woman who lives in a state where abortion is legal”. The draft judgment, unveiled on May 2, by the American Supreme Court, which is ready to annul the right to abortion, opened the prospect of a country cut in two on the question, “It gave more meaning, for me, to playing this show. It’s more political.”
The preview had seen VIPs like the star of Sex and the City, Cynthia Nixon, or the director of Vogue, Anna Wintour. A few days ago, the performance was followed by a Q&A with Center for Reproductive Rights President Nancy Northup. “This show is great, because it deals with the stigma of abortion”said this activist to AFP. “She puts humanity into it and at the same time, at the end, this sense of urgency that we need to talk about it more”she explains, recalling that one in four American women has an abortion during her lifetime.
“And people tell you you’re going to regret it all your life —”
Alison Leiby also tackles – and in a raw way – other issues still shrouded in taboos, such as sex education, contraception, period pain and discomfort – more than 2,000 days in a life, or six years, calculates she on stage – the anguish at the idea of being pregnant and, above all, the difficulty of assuming herself as a woman who does not want children.
Themes that speak to the public. “I don’t want to have children of my own (…), I’m focused on my career. But at the same time, we all go through this phase where we wonder if we are not getting too old. to give birth, says Brian Gio, a 30-year-old social worker, after a performance. “And people tell you you’re going to regret it all your life”adds the young woman, who grew up in Oklahoma, a state which has just passed a law to prohibit abortion.
Alison Leiby is torn about embarking on a tour and getting out of the more liberal lands of New York. “I would like to offer this show to a different audience. I get messages: come to Kentucky, come to West Virginia. But those who want an end to abortion are very active, very involved, in a way that scares me a little”she admits.
In New York, his stand-up show has been extended through June 30.