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 Karen Zacarías, author of CHECKS AND BALANCES, 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?
KAREN ZACARÍAS: I think the right to choose is an essential component of a woman’s human rights. Period. I have three children, so I know first hand the pleasures and sacrifices of motherhood. I never want my daughters to feel the value of their spirit is trumped by the repercussions of their biology. Women are not vessels for other people’s politics. We have the right to be captain of our own reproductive journey, whatever that may be.
JL: Tell me about the play(s) that you wrote? What inspired it?
KZ: I was asked to write a short play that involved a man and a woman discussing the financial repercussions of an unplanned pregnancy. I liked the absurd idea of examining the most personal type of question in a very public and impersonal institution.
JL: What was it like to turn this story into a play? What was your process? What research, if any, did you do?
KZ: It’s very interesting to have to create tension, character and tackle a topic as emotionally provocative as abortion in four pages.
JL: What role does theater have in advocacy work?
KZ: Theater is an arena for true dialogue…between characters and between the play and the audience. All good plays deal with characters, conflict and choice…and dramaturgically, the issue at hand is all about that.
JL: What are you working on next? Where can we follow your work?
KZ: I have a number of plays that are set to premiere next season including a Brazilian musical at the Kennedy Center, a Latino comedy with music at a major regional theater, and the adaptation of Ella Enchanted. Currently, my play The BOOK CLUB PLAY is playing at both The Dallas Theater Center (TX) and the Leshner Center for the Arts (CA) in Jan-Feb of 2015. For more information please visit: www.karenzacarias.com
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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!