In preparation for Advocates for Youth’s world premiere production of Out of Silence: Abortion Stories from the 1 in 3 Campaign, I had a chance to speak with playwright Kristen LePine, author of HARRIET, about her writing process, inspiration for the play, and the power of theatre to serve as a tool for social advocacy. Please enjoy this wonderful interview!
JACQUELINE LAWTON: Why was it important for you to be a part of Advocates for Youth’s Out of Silence: Stories from the 1 in 3 Campaign?
KRISTEN LEPINE: I didn’t know about the Campaign beforehand you approached me, and I didn’t realize the statistic – 1 in 3 women will have an abortion in her lifetime. The stories shared on the 1 in 3 Campaign website overwhelmed me – so many different perspectives – so many deeply personal stories that expressed a range of feeling. I was moved by the outpouring of stories – the need to share, to be heard, to connect, find support, and be valued. The more stories I read, the more I wanted to be involved.
JL: Tell me about the play(s) that you wrote? What inspired it?
KL: I wrote a monologue called DEAR HARRIET and it is based on a three letters. Harriet, the author of one letter, wrote about the harassment she endured after sharing her abortion story. The second letter by an anonymous author spoke about the desire to share her story with her mother, who told her to keep it to herself. The third letter, also by an anonymous author, was filled with gratitude to have a place to share her story and read others. She was grateful to have an outlet and not feel so alone. I felt all three letters could be weaved together to share a story about the very human need we all have to connect with others through storytelling.
JL: What was it like to turn this story into a play? What was your process? What research, if any, did you do?
KL: Once I selected the letters, the story I felt compelled to write fell very quickly and naturally into place. The monologue grew and developed with the help our wonderful team: Jacqueline Lawton, Marie Sproul, and Laura Miller.
JL: What role does theater have in advocacy work?
KL: Theatre presents the human condition – flawed and beautiful. It allows audiences a window into an unknown, and it allows the audience to experience a different perspective. Theatre encourages empathy and understanding, and because of this, theatre is a natural fit for advocacy.
JL: What are you working on next? Where can we follow your work?
KL: I am thrilled to be working on three projects right now. The Hub Theatre is producing the premiere production of my comedy LETO LEGEND about mythical and contemporary superwomen. My newest play CRACKED POTS will have a Staged Reading in April at Theatre J as a part of the Locally Grown Festival. Also I am working on my first novel, DAUGHTER OF SPARTA, for an educational publishing company called Zoozil. You can find out more at kristenlepine.com.
I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!