Play about Roe v. Wade case hopes to pave ‘healthier conversations’

Ysabella Gonzalez, Reporter

The California Lutheran University Theatre Arts and Dance Department is set to present “Roe,” a show centered around the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case written by playwright Lisa Loomer. The play begins in the ’70s, from its inception, and continues through today with the most recent overturning made by the Supreme Court. 

“Roe” highlights lawyer Sarah Weddington, and Norma McCorvey, known as ‘Jane Roe’. The first act covers the actual case, while the second  covers Norma’s story from being abortion-rights to her transition into a born-again Christian who is anti-abortion. The show is based on historical evidence, recordings from the Supreme Court that are used in verbatim and content from both Sarah Weddington and Norma McCorvey’s books. 

According to aluma and Director Kylie ‘Red’ Patterson, the department chose this play after the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade earlier this year on June 24th.

“I feel that there would be absolutely no better time than to tell the story of ‘Roe’ after it got reversed to show people how important this law was in the first place and how much it affects millions of women’s lives,” Patterson said. “So I can only hope that in telling this story we pave a way for healthier conversations where we can work towards protecting women’s bodily autonomy and their rights.”

In the process of making the show happen on campus, Patterson and the cast wanted both the script and characters to appear as unbiased as possible and wanted to do them justice. The department brought in an intimacy coordinator to gain insight on how to handle the topic of abortion rights.  

“A big concern of mine, when we started talking about doing the show, was to make sure that one side didn’t feel more villainized than the other because these are real people that are in the show, every character is based on a real person and some of those people are still alive, Patterson said. “Whether we like it or not we will always encounter people who have different opinions than us and I think in order to foster healthy conversations around a subject that is so charged, we need to be able to set that foundation in the rehearsal room.”

Junior Logan Soforenko, who plays Flip Benham, the real-life leader of anti-abortion group “Operation Save America,” said “Roe” has the possibility of strengthening and questioning its audience’s beliefs as it shows both sides of the case and how each stands, while also providing background and important information that may not be known.

Also, Soforenko said that even though he plays an abusive character, he was able to learn about real-life scenarios women face, such as the risk of driving to out of state abortion clinics and unsafe abortions. 

“This story is so powerful because it’s a great script and it’s not one-sided,” Sorforenko said. “What it really means to me personally, it just means that my role in society, as a man, is just to listen to these women and to listen to these stories that were in the play.”

Some actors even took inspiration from the characters they were playing, not solely in their beliefs but in how convicted they were to stand by what they supported. Alumna Jules Weiss says that she can relate to her character, Sarah Weddington, due to how driven she is. The real-life Weddington was a women’s rights advocate and lawyer who represented Roe in the case.

“The issue is even more prominent to me because it was taken away, and all this work that she did and now it’s just gone. It makes the issue have all this gravity to it and to do this show right now, during the aftermath of all this is really important and I feel really grateful to be able to approach this in a time when it is very raw,” Weiss said in a Zoom interview.

No matter what people believe, “Roe” will be a show for anyone as it displays the facts of everything that went on for the case without bias.  Senior Deanna Alvarado, who plays Norma McCorvey, said the production isn’t there to judge audiences beliefs, but rather to express them from all sides.

“I think that’s really important because this is for all of us, regardless if you think it affects you or not, it is the way that history has been made and will continue to be made and coming in with an open mind and knowing that this is a conversation that needs to go on and needs to occur across many people, many genders, many religions, many races, many walks of life, need to come together and speak about this for us, for ourselves, and for future generations,” Alvarado said. 

“Roe” will be playing Wednesday, Oct. 19, Thursday, Oct. 20, and Friday, Oct. 21, at 8 p.m. in the Preus-Brandt Forum. Admission to attend is free.