Jane Organizer’s Guide
ABORTION AND THE UNDERGROUND© Paula Kamen 2003
(Editor's Note: This is a guide on how to produce the play from Nikki Gruis
of Winona State University in Minnesota. This web version was derived from
a printed version.If you want a to print-friendly copy, you may download it
in Microsoft Word.)
www.PaulaKamen.com Playwright & Author
THE JANE ORGANIZER’S GUIDE
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Pre-Event Organizing/Publicity Checklist 3
- From One Organizer to the Next: A Note from Guide Organizer 7
- Everyone Could Use a Little Help: Delegating Production
- Visibility: Posters & Flyers 17
- Publicity: Media Advisory, Press Release, & LTEs/Op-Eds 18
- Sample Program (2 pages) 25
- Sample Flyer (Audition Call Sheet) 27
PRE-EVENT ORGANIZING CHECKLIST
Steps to Putting on a Production
- REGISTER/SCRIPT/CONTRACT Be sure to have everything OKed for your
production with playwright Paula Kamen. You will need to ask for a copy of
the script (which you must agree to not circulate beyond your group and not
change) so that you can read through it and get a more in depth look at “Jane.” Once
you have had a chance to see the script, you will need to re-contact Paula
in order to obtain a contract from her to do any form of a production. When
you contact her you will need to include your postal address or fax number
(in order for her to send you the contract) as well as the possible date/s
of the performances, and whether you will be doing a reading or a full production.
The contract must be signed and returned to Paula before you can put the production
on. For a copy of the contract and script contact Paula via email: PaulaK2289@aol.com (NOTE:
included in this guide is a sample contract so that you know in advance
what to expect)
- TIME PREP Prepare yourself to work. Depending on how big you want
the production to be, the event could take one to three months to put together.
Develop a timeline and stick to it.
- GET HELP Involve others. Find a co-organizer or assistants who are
willing to help.
- PLAN MEETING Plan your first organizer meeting. Here you can determine
how you want/need to delegate responsibilities such as who is in charge of
fundraisers, publicity, decide what kind of performance you would like to do,
- VENUE Find a free/cheap site to put on the production. University
campuses usually have many resources for students to use.
- SPONSORS Invite local women’s organizations/clubs/programs
to join your team by having them co-organize, sponsor, publicize or just attend
the event. Some may be able to contribute to costs (if there are any), especially
if it is a fundraiser for them or another cause. Ask each group to bring their
members to the production!
- EQUIPMENT If the site is large or the crowd will be big, buy/borrow/rent
from anyone who has the equipment you’ll need, such as chairs, mike, stage
- PHOTOGRAPHING/VIDEOTAPING Taking photos and/or having your production
videotaped are great ways to document the event. They can be used for future
PR or as mementos of the production. Ask friends or your local paper to come
to the event to take photographs. Most schools have a Media Services Department
which allows students to rent/check out a camcorder or some even send out some
of their own employees to tape it for you.
- SECURITY ISSUES It is strongly recommended that you call campus
security (if production is on campus) well in advance and inform them of your
production plans. Campus security is usually notified of campus events and
they plan to make rounds and check to see if the peace is being kept. It is
a good idea that you speak to the head of security and ask for them to pay
special attention to your event or to have security personnel standing outside
during the performance. You could go as far as alerting the police department
about your production – this is ideal if you are having your production
off campus and do not have access to campus security. Another possibility is
to have facilitators at your event; they can keep the audience under control,
tell of the sequence of events, and assist in a discussion either before or
after your event. Although past “Jane” performances have not had
security problems, when dealing with Pro-Choice issues there is always the
possibility of something happening. Imagine all the things that could possibly
go wrong and plan contingencies in advance. These are just measures that should
be taken to ensure everyone’s safety and wellbeing.
- MENTAL/PHYSICAL PREPARATION You will want to prepare yourself and
your cast/production help of the idea that protesters and pro-lifers/anti-choicers
may make an appearance at your production and events. This is nothing to be
alarmed about, just be sure to not overlook this. This shows the importance
of step #9.
- STAND PROUD You have decided to undertake an awesome and ultimately
rewarding task. You are honoring the women of the Jane Collective by doing
Pre-Event Publicity Checklist
FLYERS Make eye-catching paper fliers and post them everywhere that
you can! Suggestions for making them ‘pop out’ at passersby: make
copies of them on crazy colors instead of blah white (they’ll stand out
even more against a wall of other people’s white flyers); include a catchy
title on the flyer.
SPREAD THE WORD Email or send flyers to groups and organizations that
might be interested in your performance. Some college campuses have “all
student email systems” which you can forward your message so that everyone
on campus will receive an email about your event. Check with school reps
about this one.
PERFECT YOUR WRITING SKILLS Create a Letter to the Editor, Op/Ed,
Press Advisory, and Press Release (more info on these in the Publicity section
of this guide) and send them out to any and all newspapers in your area.
In 1992, I stumbled upon what any decent reporter would instantly recognize
as a really good story. While serving on a panel about “the future of
the women’s movement” for a women’s professional groups, I
heard another speaker, a prominent Chicago psychologist, talk briefly about
her very unusual activism from her youth. She had taken part in an underground
service, “Jane,” which performed thousands of illegal abortions
from 1969 to 1973.
Pretty soon, I found out that the story of “Jane” is very famous,
even legendary, in pro-choice circles but not widely known elsewhere. I was
astonished that this group was “the best kept secret in Chicago,” as
it was termed, operating with referrals by clergy, hospital staff, social workers,
administrators and the police. I wondered: how could a group of young bourgeois
housewives and student radicals, most of whom were near my age at the time,
manage to pull it all off? What drove them to take so many extreme risks for
women who were complete strangers? As a writer covering women’s changing
choices from generation to generation, I was also interested to convey to young
women what the term “back-alley” really meant, about the harrowing
Handmaid’s Tale-like reality that Chicago women faced just 30 years ago
(and could face again, soon). I thought a play would well recount this story,
to fully reveal the great dramas faced by women seeking abortions at that time,
and the complexities and contradictions of the dynamic central characters,
who were almost all mothers at the time.
In the spirit of my journalism background, I have tried to make this play as
accurate of a documentary as possible, to most fully reflect the almost unbelievable
realities of this era. I based it on transcripts of interviews I conducted
in the early 1990s, of women who both used and ran Jane. The text of the play,
rewritten many times over the years, interweaves these oral histories from
the interview transcripts with fictionalized dialogue and documents from the
era, such as newspaper stories, an actual Chicago Women’s Liberation Union
pro-abortion rights street-theater script and this umbrella group’s internal
correspondence about “The Abortion Seven.”
I found these subjects through acquaintances, chance meetings, notices I placed
the Chicago Tribune and Defender, and, when all else failed, the trusty old
Chicago phone book. Like a reporter doing any other story, when I approached
sources for the first time, I met both resistance (especially from those who
had kept silent for years to outsiders about their participation in this “illegal
service” and warm enthusiasm. Striving for accuracy, I have made as few
composite characters as possible. And, I have also included some critical voice
of The Service (as “Jane” was called”). However, I do recognize
that I had to make some minor alterations to tailor the story to the stage,
and that many Jane members do have different interpretations of the events,
such as who first thought of the name “Jane.”
This play was first produced in Chicago in 1999 by the Green Highway Theater
Company. And the research has paid off in other ways. It was used by the makers
of the 1995 documentary Jane: An Abortion Service (distributed through
Women Make Movies in New York City), and by Leslie Reagan, author of When
Abortion was a Crime (University of California Press, 1997), about 100
years of illegal abortion in Chicago. I was especially gratified that the 81-year
old Rev. E. Parsons (former head of the Clergy Consultation Service, which
referred women out of state for legal abortions), who was interviewed for the
play, has donated his papers to Northwestern University’s Special Collections
Library, which also houses my interview transcripts.
For those curious to learn more about this remarkable era in Chicago and feminist
history, only recently have some other valuable resources become available – including
Laura Kaplan’s intensive chronicle Jane (University of Chicago
Press, 1995). Other important sources about Heather Booth and the earliest
organizers of women’s liberation in the late 1960s in Chicago are the
essay by Booth, Naomi Weisstein and others in the Feminist Memoir Project (Three
Rivers Press, 1998), and the historical Daring to be Bad, by Alice Echols
(University of Minnesota Press, 1989). Also check out the new Chicago Women’s
Liberation Union “herstory” website, cwluherstory.org.
Also check out the website and documentary films by Sunny Chapman, who was
interviewed for this play and is now a filmmaker in New York City: www.sunnychapman.com/media
Finally, I wish to thank all the generous people interviewed for this script.
And I appreciate the dedication of the students that are making this production
possible, who are committed to keeping our history alive, so that we can avoid
repeating some very recent struggles.
BIO: Paula Kamen is a Chicago journalist, and the author of the book, Her
Way: Young Women Remake the Sexual Revolution (Broadway Books, 2002; NYU
Press, 2000). Excerpts of “Jane” have been printed in The Best
Women’s Monologues 1999 and The Best Stage Scenes 1999, both
published by Smith & Kraus. She has published satire, criticism and commentary
in about a dozen anthologies, the Washington Post, New York Times, Chicago
Tribune, and many other publications. Her first book, Feminist Fatale,
published in 1991, was noted as the first “third wave” feminist book,
exploring young women’s attitudes toward feminism. Born in Chicago and
raised in suburban Flossmoor, she is a 1989 graduate of the University of Illinois
and since 1994 has been a “visiting research scholar” with Northwestern
University’s Gender Studies program. Her website is www.paulakamen.com.
FROM ONE ORGANIZER TO THE NEXT
A Note from Nikki Gruis: Guide Organizer
Just a little over one year ago, I began planning campus events for what
I thought could possibly be the last anniversary of Roe v Wade, considering
who are current President is. At the time I was a campus co-representative
for Minnesota NARAL, had a variety of planned Pro-Choice events under my belt
already, and was looking forward to organizing, celebrating and commemorating
the 30th anniversary of this pivotal landmark case. Because of the
constant threat and scare of a possible overturning of Roe, my co-rep
and I wanted to make the 30th anniversary of Roe especially
poignant and remembered in our little college campus town of Winona, Minnesota.
We had already decided that we wanted to make a lasting impression by celebrating
the anniversary with a week full of events, but we had yet to determine what
we would do on each of the days.
One day while searching the website feministcampus.org, I came across an announcement
about this phenomenal play, “Jane: Abortion and the Underground” by
Paula Kamen, and once I read the synopsis of the play I was hooked – I
had to put on a production of this play. Although it can be a very daunting
task to undertake the production of a play, we did not let our theatrical inexperience
or limited timeframe get in the way of doing some form of a production.
When my campus performed it last year it ended up being a huge hit and success,
it had the biggest turnout out of all three of our planned events. The catch
here was that we did not even do a full scale performance of the play; instead
we did a modified reader’s theater in which we read from the script on
stage while doing sketch performance. We certainly were not expecting such
a big turnout, we were thinking somewhere in the ballpark of about 50-75 people,
but instead almost 200 people came to the performance. I have included here
a brief abstract (as well as a copy of our program, press release and media
advisory at the end of this guide) of how we did our performance, as to show “Jane” producer
hopefuls who are hesitant about going through with this that it is not as intimidating
as it seems:
Overview: Since our production was a modified reader’s theater, we
did not really have a set at all: we used a recital hall (which is usually
used for musical performances, and was free since I was a student) as the stage,
and had chairs set up on the stage for each of the performers/readers which
the readers used when they were not in the current scene while the actors stood
up and ‘acted’ out the scene. We had minimal props – only cell
phones for one of the scenes, and a bench and stool for a few other scenes
that had procedures in them. Given that we did not have lighting to signify
when one act/scene ended and another begun, we had an individual hold up posters
which stated what scene/act it was and its title. If the scene called for a
specific set (that would ideally be needed) we only used ourselves and the
bare stage as our set, besides the few props. When you first think about our
set-up, you probably think “Blah,” but I think that by keeping everything
minimal, the content of the play had a much bigger impact on the audience as
they were not distracted by anything and they were able to focus more on the
dialogue and monologues of the characters. Costumes were also kept to the minimum,
the cast dressed in a unifying color – black/shades of gray.
A major bonus to all of this minimalism is that we pulled it all off without
paying a single penny (we printed the programs & flyers off in the campus
library so it was free) and it took about 4 weeks to put it all together.
I would like to commend you and your organizing group for deciding upon
doing a production of “Jane,” I guarantee that it is a rewarding
and learning experience that you will never forget. I was given the opportunity
by Paula Kamen to put together this guide for future organizers and with that
being known, along with the fact that I have put on a production of “Jane” before,
please feel free to contact me with any questions that you have or advice that
you might need for your own production.
~ For Choice ~
“We are women whose ultimate goal is the liberation of women in society.
One important way we are working toward that goal is by helping any woman who
wants an abortion to get one as safely and cheaply as possible under existing
- Jane pamphlet, 1969-1973.
“We wanted to create an atmosphere that was empowering in a situation that
was normally very disempowering. We wanted to give women some ammunition in their
lives, and by acting directly, show them was possible to take action on their
own behalf and on behalf of other women.”
- Anonymous, The Jane Collective (from Abortion Without Apology by Nina
Baeher, South End Press, 1991).
JANE: ABORTION AND THE UNDERGROUND
Copyright Paula Kamen 2001
Drama, two act; at least 9 women (at least 2 African American), at least 3
men (doubling for both genders required); one simple set possible; offers ethnically
diverse roles and strong roles for women.
Running Time: Three versions: 2 hours and 10 minutes; 1 hour and 45 minutes;
1 and a half hours (without intermission).
A timely and provocative drama about “the best-kept secret” in Chicago, “Jane,” an
underground abortion service that operated from 1969 to 1973. This network,
run by a feminist collective of mostly middle-class housewives and students,
was the one safe alternative for about 11,000 Chicago women of all backgrounds.
In all those years, “Jane,” which boasted no fatalities and operated
in private apartments throughout the city, was well trusted by and commonly
received referrals from police, university administrators, social workers,
clergy, and hospital staff. Writing about the play’s premiere production
in fall 1999, Chicago Reader critic Kim Wilson said: “Everyone – but
women especially – should hear this story.”
PRODUCTION AND PUBLICATION HISTORY
- World premiere by Green Highway Company at the Chopin Studio
Theater, Chicago, August 1999.
- Production by Millenium Theater Company at the Bartell Theater,
Madison, Wisconsin, June 2001.
- Reader’s theater production, Winona State University, Minnesota,
- Production, Florida State University, Tallahassee, January 2003.
- Production, College of William and Mary, Virginia, March 2003.
- Two monologues published in The Best Women’s Monologues
1999 (Smith & Kraus, 2000).
- Scene published in The Best Stage Monologues 1999 (Smith & Kraus,
- Monologue published in Millenium Monologues: Voices of a New
Age (Meriwether Press, 2002).
- Semi-finalist, Moondance Film Festival, Stage Plays Category,
named November 2000.
- Finalist, Columbine non-violence award, Moondance Film Festival,
GROUND BREAKING RESEARCH
Research for the writing of Jane includes a detailed, original investigation into its past an dozens of interviews with those who were on the scene. This includes patients from various stages of the network and the major leaders. The drama, a historical documentary, is stitched from original interview transcripts, fictionalized reenactments of conversations, and historical documents, such as a script for abortion-rights street theater by the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union and newspaper coverage of “The Abortion Seven.” The research is so valuable that it was used by the makers of the PBS documentary, Jane: An Abortion Service, which aired in 1998 (Author Paula Kamen is credited as providing as much of the film’s research). The interview transcripts, quoted in the 1997 book When Abortion was a Crime (University of California Press), are also on file with the Special Collections Department of the Northwestern University Library.
THE STORY: BEYOND THE SURFACE AND THE RHETORIC
In its suspenseful drama and occasional dark humor, this play tells an important story of both Chicago and reproductive rights history. Engaged n the ongoing abortion-rights debate, the play presents the much needed and forgotten point of view of women, discussing the real threat to their lives and human dignity when abortion was illegal. The play also connects the group to its roots in the New Left, civil rights and women’s health movements – which become clear even to a non-political audience. Many characters were involved in all these movements, such as Micki, a black civil rights worker who was a legal aide in the Chicago Conspiracy Trial and let “Jane” use her apartment in the Kenwood neighborhood for the procedures. (The play also explores connections to the underground Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion, run by E. Spencer Parsons, former dean of Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago, interviewed for the play.)
Jane is also about the power of collective action to make change in women’s lives. By cooperating together under stressful circumstances, Jane made a normally traumatic and “criminal” situation into an empowering one, where women often learned for the first time vital information about their own bodies and feminism. Especially in later years, the collective gave personal treatment to patients, giving them health information, such as copies of the first editions of Our Bodies, Ourselves, and emotional support through the process. Jane also was radical in demystifying and taking control of the abortion process, which was considered the exclusive domain of the male medical establishment
Yet, while addressing politics (which are inextricable from the characters’ lives), the play is NOT AN “ISSUE PLAY” – and concentrates on telling stories rather than on polemics. The play explores many complexities of the abortion issue, as well as of the main characters involved, most of whom were mothers at the time. The playwright does not “whitewash” the abortion experience of people who used Jane, often voices critical of this home-grown service. In this play, the complexities of abortion rights are revealed in twists and turns of the plot. Nothing is as it seems on the surface: a minister and pregnant woman are abortion-rights activists; a policewoman knocking on the door of The Service is seeking an abortion, not an arrest; and the abortion doctor revealed not to be a real doctor.
“Jane” was started by Heather Booth (later a leader in the Democratic National Committee), then a leader of campus activism at the University of Chicago, who is credited with forming more early feminist groups than anyone else. Because of her contacts in the civil rights movement, a friend asked her to find a doctor to help his sister, who needed an abortion. Soon, the word spread throughout activist communities of her connection to a doctor, and she found herself setting up a counseling and referral service. When returning calls to women, she used the code name “Jane.” When the workload became too much, she sought the help of other activists, many of whom were drawn to the emerging “women’s liberation” and women’s health movements. Eventually, “Jane” officially became a part of the greater women’s movement by affiliating with the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union, a groundbreaking socialist-feminist umbrella organization, founded in 1969.
Gradually, the women of “Jane” (or “The Service”) began assisting the abortionists and learning the procedures on their own. Meanwhile, they found out that the abortionists they were using were not real “doctors,” as promised, further demystifying this previously mysterious procedure. In 1969, they took over performing the abortions themselves, charging less than $100 a piece and helping the poorest women in the city. After a long period of surveillance, in 1972, the police finally busted the Service. But before the much-publicized “Abortion Seven” could go on trial, the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision released them from charges and “Jane” dissolved.
EVERYONE COULD USE A LITTLE HELP
Delegating the Production Responsibilities
A dedicated behind-the-scenes team is pivotal to the success of your production
(no matter how big or small).
- Set up the first meeting as soon as possible: Invite as many
people as you can with different backgrounds, interests, and skills to that
first meeting. You will need all the help you can get in many different areas
so having a large crowd to start with will enable you to put together a core
group of dedicated Choicers.
- Define Roles: As the organizer/director of your event, one of
your responsibilities will be to explain “Jane: Abortion and the Underground” and
its importance to our lives. Other roles may include, but not limited to:
- Fundraising Chair – this person could also search for sponsors
- Venue Scout – search for locations to have your events
- Publicity Rep – in charge of distributing flyers, LTEs,
Press Releases, and Media Advisories
- Program/Flyer Creator
- Stage/Set Designer - this role is optional depending on what
type of production you plan on having.
- Complementing Events Coordinator – plan events that would
complement your production such as finding speakers for the pre/post-production,
planning a panel discussion of Choice, hosting a viewing of a Choice video.
- Casting Crew – they can also set up the auditions if you
plan on having people audition for parts.
- Communication: Have regular meetings to report progress or possible
set-backs to each other and to assess if everyone is on target with their various
- Sponsorship: Finding a sponsor for your event/production can
take a very large load off of your mind. You may want to begin by first looking
at either college departments/programs or groups, or community organizations
that can provide some form of funding. Sponsors might also be able to help
you, byway of their networking connections, in finding and securing a venue,
utilizing campus/community facilities, and promoting the production.
Securing a venue and setting dates gives you something concrete to work with
Locate and secure the largest venue that you think you can handle. Don’t
underestimate the number of people that will want to come to your event (but
keep your attendance expectations realistic) – many organizers of a variety
of past events will tell you that they had a full house, with overflow, and
wished that they had booked a bigger space. You certainly don’t want to
think to yourself after the fact that you wish you could have been able to
accommodate more audience members. Possible venue options include:
- Campus theater – main stage or recital hall
- Community theater or local arts center
- Local café – these usually have very limited space
so this may be only a viable option for a smaller production such as a Reader’s
- What can the venue offer you?: Look at publicity, support, resources,
etc. Are there props available that you could use? Is there an in-house stage
manager that could offer their help? Sound technician? Lighting? Accessibility
for the differently abled? Investigate your options to make sure that you are
getting the best resources available.
- The inevitable – How much does it cost?: Typically, if you
are putting together a production and the venue that you wish to have is on
a college campus (where you are a student) then you will more than likely be
able to book the venue for free or at a discounted rate (schools usually add
these minor things in with your tuition – didn’t you always wonder
were all that money went???). If you are not a student at the college, then
try contacting and networking with a Women’s Studies program/club/group
on that campus – they might be very interested in sponsoring the event
and you could even get a few more people to help out. If your ideal venue is
off-campus, and you don’t necessarily have the funds to pay for it then
still try networking with campus or community groups that could offer you sponsorship.
Another possibility in waiving the costs of the venue, try striking a deal
with the venue manager – perhaps offer a mention of their name in your
program in exchange for the waiver. When all else fails – FUNDRAISE!!
(see fundraising section)
- Book the venue NOW!: The sooner the better, in terms of possible
sponsorship, advertising and coordinating the event. If you are unsure between
a few venue locations, and all of them are free to use at your disposal, then
reserve them all. You can always cancel a reservation later when you have more
logistical information on the performance.
You are free to cast whomever you choose in your production.
- Diversity: Although you might be limited by your geographic
region, please make every effort to assemble as diverse a cast as possible.
- Performers: Do not constrain your production by only casting
thespians for the performance. Just remember that the Jane Collective was not
filled by only abortion doctors or those who had experienced abortion first
hand. Another consideration is to open up your casting to all people – students,
faculty, community members.
- Auditions: Auditions are the place to identify people who are
well-suited for specific roles in “Jane.” A good idea for when you
are holding auditions is to have an open-call and not requiring an audition
piece _ you may instead opt to supply them with photocopied excerpts of the
play itself. Note: it’s best to have multiple roles available (make copies
of different parts) and hope that people choose to audition for different roles.
Chance is that people have not read or seen “Jane” before so they
could just draw out of a pile, audition for no specific part, and then you
and your casting crew can make the final call on what part they are to receive.
Another note is to possibly have your auditions spanning more than one night
in case people cannot make it to one, or if they are unable to make it to any
of the auditions then they can have an arranged one-on-one audition with you.
- Number of Performers: This cast requires a minimum of 11 members:
9 women and 2 men, preferably 5 white women as the leads, 3-6 white women for
the supporting roles, an older black woman, a young black woman, one young
man, and one older man. If you choose to have only the minimum cast then be
aware that your performers will be doubling up on parts.
- A very basic, cut and dry, type of performance. The performers
sit on the stage and just read from the script. This form of production does
not require setting/staging/props/costumes besides a seating or standing arrangement
for the readers. Although not required, you may opt to have some form of backdrop
behind your readers, have the performers were a universal color to signify
unity, and bind the script in a non-obvious covering. This also requires a
minimal amount of planning time – reserve venue, find your cast, and possible
have a few reading run-throughs of the play. Timing and planning approximately
= a few weeks to a month.
MODIFIED READER’S THEATER
- Similar to a regular reader’s theater being that the performers
read from the script, but different because of a few modifications. You may
still choose to have your performers sit on the stage, but instead of reading
from their seats they might get up and act out their lines (when they are in
the scene) and interact with the other scene characters (staging/blocking).
Props may also be added into this type of performance, but it is suggested
that since you are not doing a full-scale production (read: not doing big scene
changes) that you should keep the props small and easily movable around the
stage. Also, you may want to have the performers to dress alike as suggested
under the Reading option. This type of performance may require a bit
more planning and time than a Reading or regular Reader’s Theater,
but it is still minimal - a little more planning will need to go into stage
blocking. Timing and planning approximately = 3 weeks to 1 _ months. (SEE “FROM
ONE ORGANIZER TO THE NEXT” SECTION FOR MORE DETAILS)
FULL SCALE PRODUCTION
- This form of production is just what the title purveys – a
full-scale all-out play production. Most/all of the suggested setting/staging
described by Paula Kamen in the script will be utilized. You may want to reach
out and ask for help from a local theater department or troupe in getting their
assistance and donations for designing the sets and stage as well as borrowing
their props/costumes. This may also require securing a venue that has a larger
stage. Time and planning = 1 _ months to 3 months _ to allow time for set design
and rehearsals (performers do not typically read from scripts so you will want
to allot time for line memorization and stage blocking).
Hosting a fundraiser is an excellent way to increase funding for your event,
as well as a way to spread the word about your upcoming production. You can
tailor the examples here to fit any idea that you have.
- Bake sales – you could even make these into ‘pay equity’
- Button sales – if you have access to a button maker
- T-shirt sales – ask a local t-shirt shop to possibly donate
materials and time to create shirts for you to sell
- Write letters to local progressive businesses and ask for any
donations that they may be willing to make
- Silent auction – ask local progressive businesses to donate
goods which you can turn around and auction off to the highest bidder. You
might also consider auctioning your cast – people pay or “buy” your
cast (those willing to participate) to do random tasks such as yard work, babysitting,
- Car washes – talk to local car washes and ask they would
be willing to either give either the full or partial profit made in a day/s.
Communicating Effectively Through Posters/Flyers
POSTERS & FLYERS POWERFULLY CONVEY ONE SPECIFIC MESSAGE TO A TARGETED
AUDIENCE. HERE ARE SOME TIPS FOR CREATING POSTERS & FLYERS WITH PUNCH:
1 Know your audience: Tailor your message to each a specific audience
(e.g. students, women over 40, communities of faith, etc.)
2 Grab their attention: Rely on fact sheets, pamphlets and books to
tell them the full story. Use the poster to motivate supporters to find out
3 Stick to the facts: Include date, times and locations for events,
and your organization’s/group name and contact info.
4 Consider designing with text only: While graphics are great, a well
designed print-only poster offers an effective low-cost alternative. Or to
grab attention without adding graphics, print/copy your posters/flyers on colored
5 Balance all of the elements of design: graphics and print
6 Unite the design elements so that they appear as one.
7 Create movement through the poster: design to draw the eye of the
observer from the most to the least important parts of the poster/flyer
8 Design an element of surprise to grab your viewer’s attention
9 Produce it with pride: this may be your first impression on a potential
supporter. Make it your best!
10 Distribute: put out your flyers at least 3 weeks in advance on campus,
in the community, and to organizations.
THREE IMPORTANT USES FOR POSTERS INCLUDE:
- Announcing events: such as a Roe v. Wade vigil or a production
- Promoting a service: such as the Providers Expansion Project
- Educating the public about emerging issues, such as attacks on
- Compile a list of news contacts who will be interested in your
event. Send press releases, advisories, statements, and background information
to local papers, news channels, and radio stations. First send out a Media
Advisory and then send out a more descriptive story (Press Release) with updates
a few days before the event. Follow these up with a phone call or email to
make sure that someone is assigned to cover your event. Send local newspapers
and public radio stations a public service announcement. Newspapers and radio
calendar sections offer free announcements for upcoming events. As soon as
you have a firm date, get on those calendars. The morning of the event make
quick reminder calls, especially to TV and radio. At your event be sure to
have a news release available for reporters on site which quotes your key spokesperson
and has data about your event. Lastly, if you have any form of funding, you
may want to consider taking out an ad in your local paper.
How to Write a Media Advisory
- Cover the Who, What, When, Where, and Why details of the event
- Reel them in – give the press a reason to come to the event
- Keep it short – stick to the 5 W’s
- Include contact information
- Distribute to the press one week before your event.
Tips on How to Write Press Releases:
- Use your organization/group’s letterhead
- Pick a catchy headline
- Stick to the facts
- Cover the 5 W’s and the 1 H (who, what, when, where, why & how).
Also put the most important information in the first paragraph.
- Keep it short and sweet
- Distribute press releases the day before or the day of your event
preferably, or you can send it out within a week of the event. Do not send
it out too far in advance because the press may just shrug the event off.
- Press releases are generally more or less like an article whereas
press advisories are the ‘bare-bones’ of the event.
How to Write Letters to the Editor & Op/Eds
Writing letters to the editor (LTEs) of your campus, local, and state newspapers
about your event is a great way to get media coverage and to encourage people
to attend. LTEs are the 2nd most-read part of the newspaper after
the front page. Here are some tips on how to write LTEs and maximize your chances
of getting printed:
- Keep it short – most papers have a maximum word count of
250 words or less. Check with the paper for more information.
- If possible, refer to a recent article from the newspaper. When
there are no recent articles to write about, try to use a recently released
study, quote, or event to refer to (e.g., recent campus event that is relevant
to what you are writing about.) Use concrete facts to make your case.
- Put your contact information, including name, address, and phone
number, at the end of the letter so the editor can verify that you are the
- Deliver a copy of your LTE personally to the editor or most papers
nowadays have online admittance available.
- Some newspapers are picky and insist that any letters they publish
are “exclusive” to them. Make sure to check on this aspect by calling
your local newspapers.
- Don’t forget to include your address and phone number. Some
publications will want to call to confirm that you wrote the letter before
they publish it.
Op-eds or opinion pieces provide an opportunity to write a longer piece
expressing your viewpoint on controversial issues. While most papers accept
unsolicited opinion pieces, it often pays to ask ahead of time. Tips for op-eds:
- While longer than LTEs, op-eds should still be concise and to
the point. Ask the newspaper for guidelines, but in general keep between 300-350
- Remember that it is called an opinion piece, so be sure you express
one. Don’t just describe a situation, offer your or your organization/group’s
position on what should be done about it.
- Our Choices, Our Lives: Unapologetic Writings on Abortion, 2002,
Krista Jacob Ed., New York: Writers Advantage.
- Behind Every Choice is a Story, 2002, Gloria Feldt, Denton, Texas:
University of North Texas Press.
- Abortion at Work: Ideology and Practice in a Feminist Clinic, 1996,
Wendy Simonds, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.
- A Question of Choice, 1993, Sarah Weddington, New York: Penguin
- Before Roe: Abortion Policy in the States, 2001, Rosemary Nossif;
Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Movies (Check your school’s library or media services – they
may already own some of these).
- Jane: An Abortion Service, released in 1996, available through
Women Make Movies in NYC. Produced and directed by Kate Kirtz and Nell Lundy. – Profiles
the abortion service which operated in Chicago during the late 1960s and early
1970s, when abortion was illegal; consists primarily of interviews with many
of the women who worked with the service. http://www.wmm.com/Catalog/pages/c410.htm
- If These Walls Could Talk, released in 1996 by HBO – an
excellent movie about a woman’s right to choose through the lens of three
separate decades: pre-Roe, adjacent to Roe, and present.
- Never Go Back: The Threat to Legalized Abortion, released by
the Feminist Majority Foundation. Contact Million4Roe.com for a copy.
- The Fragile Promise of Choice: Abortion in the United States
Today, released n 1996 (Menlo Park, CA: Concentric Media) Producer: Beth Seltzer,
Director: Dorothy Fadiman, Produced in association with KTEH-TV, San Jose.
- When Abortion was Illegal: Untold Stories, released in 1992 (Oley,
PA: Bullfrog Films, Concentric Media). Producer & Director: Dorothy Fadiman
in association with KTEH-TV. – Presents the stories of women who had illegal
abortions from 1930-1960, along with comments of doctors and others who helped
them deal with later trauma.
- From Danger to Dignity: The Fight for Safe Abortion, released
in 1995 (Menlo Park, CA: Concentric Media), Produced in association with KTEH-TV,
San Jose. – This documentary chronicles the double-pronged movement, the
grassroots activism and intensive legislative lobbying, that culminated in
Roe v. Wade. Rare footage and interviews with movement participants are intercut
with women’s shared recollections of back-alley or self-induced abortions.
- Two documentaries, Misguidance and In Bad Faith,
by Sunny Chapman, who was interviewed as a subject in the Jane play, exposing
lies of covertly anti-choice “crisis pregnancy centers.” See www.sunnychapman.com/media
Plus Many Many More
SAMPLE: NOT FOR ACTUAL USE
Agreement made this ______ day of _____, 200__, by and between ____(Producer)
and Paula Kamen (Author).
Producer and Author agree to the following with respect to the play entitled “Jane:
Abortion and the Underground:”
- The Author hereby grants to the Producer the right to produce and
present a production of the play for 1 reading on ________, 200_.
- The Author represents that she has the full and complete right to
permit such a production of the Play by the Producer.
- Any performances of the Play beyond the originally contracted performances
stated above shall be negotiated by a separate contract.
- The Producer shall not make changes, alterations, and/or omissions
to the Play without the Author’s prior consent. Any changes or additions
to which the Author consents shall be become the Author’s sole property.
- Producer grants the Author the right to attend all rehearsals, technical
rehearsals and performances of the production.
- The Author shall receive billing credit in all programs, advertising
and publicity for the play immediately underneath the title.
- The Producer shall have the right to authorize one or more radio
and/or television presentations of the excerpts from the Play for the sole
purpose of publicizing the production of the Play; provided, however, that
the Producer shall receive no compensation or profit, directly or indirectly,
for authorizing any such radio or television presentations.
- The Author retains all other rights to the Play and any future productions
- This is the entire Agreement between the Author and the Producer.
It shall not be amended or modified except by a written agreement signed by
the two parties.
Paula Kamen Date
___________________ _________________________________ ______
Signed Printed Name of Signer and Group Name Date
WSU Students Mark 30th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade
Winona, Minnesota—WSU MN NARAL campus representatives, the Women’s Studies Department, and FORGE are marking the 30th anniversary of a woman’s right to choose safe and legal abortion. On January 22nd, 1973, the Supreme Court decided in Roe v. Wade that a woman’s right to choose an abortion is a fundamental right and has the highest level of Constitutional protection.
Who: WSU MN NARAL Campus Representatives, the Women’s Studies Department, and FORGE
What: A reader’s theatre of “Jane: Abortion and the Underground” by Paula Kamen, with opening statements by history professor Dr. Colette Hyman, followed by a facilitated discussion.
When: Wednesday January 22 at 7 p.m.
Where: The PAC Recital Hall in the Performing Arts Center on the WSU campus.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact:
January 21-23, 2003 Nikki Gruis ###-####
Mary Fanning ###-####
Available M-F 8a-6p
Dr. Tamara Berg
Winona State University Students Mark 30th Anniversary of a Woman’s Right to Choose
Winona, Minnesota— Winona State University’s MN NARAL affiliate, Women’s Studies Department, the WILL Program, and FORGE are marking the 30th anniversary of a woman’s right to choose safe and legal abortion. On January 22nd, 1973, the Supreme Court decided in Roe v. Wade that a woman’s right to choose an abortion is a fundamental right and has the highest level of Constitutional protection.
Along with students all over Minnesota, MN NARAL at WSU will be commemorating the anniversary by hosting a viewing of “The Fragile Promise of Choice: Abortion in the United States Today” with opening statements by psychology professor Dr. Susan Sefkow on Tuesday January 21 at 7 p.m. in Stark Auditorium on the WSU campus. A reader’s theatre of “Jane: Abortion and the Underground” by Paula Kamen, with opening statements by history professor Dr. Colette Hyman on Wednesday January 22 at 7 p.m. in the Black Box Theatre in the Performing Arts Center on the WSU campus. A Pro-Choice panel/forum with keynote speaker MN NARAL Executive Director Tim Stanley, along with women’s studies professor Dr. Tamara Berg, student health director Diane Palm, FNP, and health and human performance professor Dr. Peter Sternberg. The Pro-Choice forum will be taking place on Thursday January 23 at 7 p.m. in the Stark Auditorium on the WSU campus. Facilitated discussions will follow each of the commemorative events. Students on 16 campuses across the state are marking the event in similar ways today.
Students sought to celebrate a woman’s right to choose, but are also somber about the state of reproductive freedom in 2003. “Even though we have a Constitutional right to abortion, that isn’t always the case in practical terms,” said Mary Fanning. “Because of restrictive laws and harassment of providers and patients, the right to choose is not always apparent to women in need.”
Students are also wary of laws to come. “In Minnesota, we are threatened by new restrictions on the right to choose. The Legislature already has three bills on the table designed to make accessing abortions more difficult. Moreover, there are indications that the Legislature and Governor will approve severe cuts and restrictions on family planning funds, which would ironically increase the number of abortions necessary in Minnesota,” said Nikki Gruis
Tim Stanley, executive director of Minnesota NARAL, an affiliate of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, echoed these concerns. “Even 30 years after Roe v. Wade, the fundamental right to choose is endangered. In the last abortion-related case, the Supreme court narrowly held up a woman’s right to choose in a 5-4 vote. We are just one or two Supreme Court appointments away from a partial or full reversal of the Roe v. Wade decision.”
“Reproductive freedom is a fundamental American value. We only hope that we will be able to continue to celebrate its anniversary,” said Mary Fanning.
Abortion— a woman's decision, a woman's right
The following is an excerpt from an original informational brochure passed
out by the Abortion Counseling Service – “Jane.”
We are giving our time not only because we want to make abortions safer, cheaper and more accessible for the individual women who come to us, but because we see the whole abortion issue as a problem of society. The current abortion laws are a symbol of the sometimes subtle, but often blatant, oppression of women in our society.
Women should have the right to control their own bodies and lives. Only a woman who is pregnant can determine whether she has enough resources — economic, physical and emotional — at a given time to bear and rear a child. Yet at present the decision to bear the child or have an abortion is taken out of her hands by governmental bodies which can have only the slightest notion of the problems involved.
Cultural, moral and religious feelings are largely against abortion, and society does all it can to make a woman feel guilty and degraded if she has one.
The same society that glamorizes women as sex objects and teaches them from early childhood to please and satisfy men views pregnancy and childbirth as punishment for "immoral" or "careless" sexual activity, especially if the woman is uneducated, poor or black. The same morality that says "that's what she gets for fooling around" also fails to recognize society's responsibility to the often unwelcome child that results. Punitive welfare laws reflect this view, and churches reinforce it.
Only women can bring about their own liberation. It is time for women to get together to change the male-made laws and to aid their sisters caught in the bind of legal restrictions and social stigma. Women must fight together to change the attitudes of society about abortion and to make the state provide free abortions as a human right.”
Sponsored by: WSU Women’s Studies Program,MN NARAL, & FORGE
Jane: Abortion and the Underground
A dramatic documentary of Chicago’s revolutionary abortion service
and its roots, 1965-1973
By Paula Kamen
Copyright 1992, 1993, 1999, and 2001
NEVER GO BACK
January 22, 2003
7:00 P.M. in PAC Recital Hall
Winona State University
Celebrating 30 Years of Choice
Roe v Wade January 22, 1973
How Jane Was Started…
Today it's hard to remember when abortion was illegal. But before the Roe v. Wade court decision of 1973, women with unwanted pregnancies faced difficult choices.
Women with money could travel to a country where abortion was legal. Those without that option could take their chances with illegal abortionists in this country. Others tried dangerous self-induced abortions, making the coat hanger a national symbol of women's desperation. Each year an estimated 5,000 women died from botched abortions.
The Abortion Counseling Service of Women's Liberation, better known by its nickname "Jane", began as an underground referral group. Eventually they decided to perform the abortions themselves.
Former Jane members estimate that they performed more than 11,000 illegal abortions. Working under difficult clandestine conditions, Jane became legendary on the streets of Chicago for the quality of its care and the dedication of its members. ~ From www.cwluherstory.org
Playwright’s Note: Most of the people profiled in this play are
real. They have expressly granted the playwright permission for the use of
their interview transcripts. For dramatic purposes, slight editing has been
made in oral histories to clarify meaning, maintain subject anonymity and correct
The play is based on oral histories from interviews by the playwright, fictionalized
dialogue, and documents from the era.
~ Mary Fanning: WSU Senior; MN NARAL Campus Representative; Psychology Major, Women’s Studies Minor. Playing the parts of: Ruth, Caller 3, and Playwright
~ Nikki Gruis: WSU Senior; MN NARAL Campus Representative; Psychology Major, Women’s Studies Minor. Playing the parts of: Jody and Caller 2
~ Sara Ferden: WSU Senior; English Major; Women’s Studies Minor. Playing the parts of: Sunny and Jane 4/Martha
~ Margaret Grohn: WSU Sophomore; English Major; Women’s Studies Minor. Playing the parts of: Jane 2/Carol and Protester #2
~ Regina Elliott: WSU Senior; Mass Communication Major; Women’s Studies Minor. Playing the parts of Lory and Radical Woman #2
~ Maggie Weller: WSU Senior; Psychology Major; Women’s Studies Minor. Playing the parts of: Rose, Caller 4, and Crystal
~ Blythe Newburg: WSU Junior; Mass Communication Major; Women’s Studies Minor. Playing the parts of: Micki, Jane 1/Millie, and Radical Woman #1
~ Lindsay Stambaugh: WSU Sophomore; Law & Society Major; Women’s Studies Minor. Playing the parts of: Heather and Protester #1
~ Clarissa Malecha: WSU Sophomore; Social Work Major; Women’s Studies Minor. Playing the parts of: Jane 3/Nancy and Patient
~ Jeni Thomson: SMU Senior; Studio Art & Theatre Majors. Playing the parts of: Jane 6/Susan, Protester #2, Medical Supplier, and Investigator
~ Jess Burgoyne: WSU Sophomore; Nursing Major; Women’s Studies Minor. Playing the parts of: Judith, Jane 5/Diane, and Caller 1
~ Jason Zaborowski: WSU Senior; History Major; Women’s Studies Minor. Playing the parts of: Dr.C, Nick, Steve, Reverend E. Spencer Parsons, and Lawyer.
* Mary Fanning and Nikki Gruis would like to thank the entire
cast for all of their hard work and their unyielding dedication to a woman’s
right to choose.
Sponsored by the Winona State University
MN NARAL Campus Representatives
The WSU MN NARAL Campus Representatives are sponsoring a benefit production
of Jane: Abortion and the Underground in part of commemorating the 31st Anniversary
of Roe v Wade, as well as to raise money for WSU students to attend
the March for Choice, which is a National Pro-Choice event Celebrating
and Protecting a Woman’s Right to Choose.
For: A Reader’s Theater Production of
Jane: Abortion and the Underground
by Paula Kamen
Production Date: Wednesday, January 22, 2004
Open Call Auditions are being held:
Tuesday ~ December 16th, 2003
Where: Tentatively set in Maxwell 216 (more info to come)
~Private Auditions can be arranged for those unable to attend~
No Audition Piece Required
Anyone (Female or Male, Students, Faculty and Community Members) who is resolutely Pro-Choice is welcome to participate and audition .
Synopsis of Jane: “A timely and provocative drama about ‘the best-kept secret’ in Chicago, “Jane,” an underground abortion referral service that operated from 1969-1973. This network, run by a feminist collective of mostly middle-class housewives and students, was the one safe alternative for about 11,000 Chicago women of all backgrounds.”
~ Paula Kamen
Come and be a part of this historical piece of Pro-Choice history!
If you have any questions or concerns, such as wanting to participate but cannot attend the scheduled auditions, feel free to contact:
Nikki at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary at email@example.com