The Atlantic

Roe: Can a Play Influence the Abortion Debate?

Lisa Loomer's production about the legendary Supreme Court case opens during a time of renewed uncertainty over a woman’s right to choose.
Source: C. Stanley Photography / Arena Stage

Roe, which opened at Washington, D.C.’s Arena Stage just days before the inauguration of President Donald Trump, is a modern kind of history play, a production that considers a crucial issue in American politics. But its playwright, Lisa Loomer, didn’t expect the timing of Roe to be quite so pointed, coinciding with the arrival of a new president opposed to abortion rights and a vacancy on the Supreme Court. “It’s daunting,” Loomer says. “I feel like the play has become accidentally urgent.”

But Roe isn’t a particularly polemical play, or a deliberate attempt to advocate for one side or another. It frames its story around the two women at the center of Roe v. Wade, the 1971 case that enshrined the legal right to have an abortion in

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