From the Playwright

I’m so glad I have the opportunity to revisit this play. Sometimes when you are working to get a play up and on in New York, time is not necessarily on your side. Coming back to the play after years away from it, knowing what I learned from the first production, gave me a lot more perspective; and revisiting and synthesizing some of it into an updated version of the play was a huge opportunity and one that rarely comes around for any playwright.

Of course, it’s also interesting to me that abortion remains such a vociferous and divisive issue. I’m not sure we’ve made much progress in the last eight years. In fact, it seems the information sources available (tabloid news, Internet, etc.) make the politics of it even more alienating and self-righteous.

I love plays where, as an audience member, you’re going back and forth between the two lead characters, assured you’re in agreement with one character’s Point-Of-View, and then the other character makes a point that tips you in a different direction entirely and if theater can do that, it’s exciting. I like the discomfort of suddenly not being absolutely sure. I think there’s mercy there, I really do, and that gives compassion some elbow room. I think there’s an opportunity for more understanding in an open mind. That’s what I really want to do with this play – get into the personal side of the argument rather than leaning on some kind of “for or against” polemic, wherein hearing and listening is replaced by an imposing need to win the argument, almost at any cost. And in the case of abortion, the very person who needs the most care, easily becomes the person who has to be overcome or overwhelmed or, in some cases, even legislated against. I wanted to see how or if two people who say they love each other so much, who are fighting over something so inarguably precious, could find their way out of war and back to the love that brought them together in the first place.

Still – and this is very important to me  – it’s the personal agony of two people, struggling to retain their humanity, equanimity and love for one another that compelled me to look at the play again with fresh eyes and ears. This kind of personal struggle has integrity, necessity. There is a mercy in something that is learned the hard way. We can’t help but learn from it and hopefully pass the wisdom derived from that struggle on to our children and perhaps even to the culture at large.

I’m moved by what presiding Chaplain Barry C. Black was quoted as saying to the Senate recently in his morning convocation:

“We acknowledge our transgressions, our shortcomings, our smugness, our selfishness and our pride. Deliver us from the hypocrisy of attempting to sound reasonable while being unreasonable.”

He gave me a lot to meditate on. I hope The Argument might do the same for the audiences of Theater J.

-Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros


Susan Rome

James Whalen

Jefferson A. Russell