About the Work

Performance at the U of South Daoka

ReproFreedomArts.org delivers dynamic theater performances in support of reproductive health, rights, freedom and justice. Our signature titles include Reproductive Freedom Is What We Want and Words of Choice. Created by Cindy Cooper, the pieces weave together a dozen stories of people and reproductive rights.

In our performances, a small acting ensemble brings to life a dozen powerful, poignant and comic stories: a man describes his girlfriend’s near-death before abortion is made legal; a teenager tries to remember the name and phone number of a one-night stand; and a woman seeks swift divine intervention for a contraceptive need.

Repro Freedom Arts is a platform originated by Words of Choice. Words of Choice was first performed in 2000, and first did touring performances in 2003. See more about the writers included in this version of Words of Choice.

Select History
 
2022: We made an audio recording of the Righteous Words of Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent to the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to allow the anti-abortion SB8 go into effect in Texas, with text by Abigail Ramsay, and posting it on SoundCloud and YouTube. We began a new season of Reproductive Freedom Walking Tours in Lower Manhattan with Social Justice Tours. We added to our blog capacity, reaching nearly 500 posts, with new resources and several extremely popular posts, including on digital archives of classic feminist magazines, and continued our support of StatueFest, Honor Roll Playwrights, programs addressing intimate partner violence, National Women’s In Theatre Festival, and co-sponsored a poetry reading with Write On Poetry Babes in New Jersey.
 
2021: We started anew our Reproductive Freedom Walking Tours in Lower Manhattan with Social Justice Tours after a pandemic break. We continue blogging about creative reproductive freedom projects around the country in Up The Creativity. We uploaded video recordings to YouTube from Readings, Resilience and Reproductive Freedom, Artists and Activists Speak Out in a Time of Crisis and ReGeneration: Reproductive Freedom Then and Now. We provided organizational support to aarts programming by StatueFest, Put A Woman On A Pedestal, which presented evenings of monologues on Zoom and in person about noteworthy women, and Honor Roll! which advocates for women+ playwrights over 40 and worked with Applause to publish two books.
 
2020: We launched our new updated website, ReproFreedomArts.org. We performed a virtual program, Readings, Resilience and Reproductive Freedom, Artists and Activists Speak Out in a Time of Crisis in collaboration with the National Institute for Reproductive Health. on the Zoom platform, engaging eight actors performing from monologues from our repertory from their own homes during Covid-19 closures. We joined with Social Justice Tours for a podcast about reproductive health and Covid-19. We launched ReGeneration: Reproductive Freedom Then and Now, a Zoom performance piece based on arranged intergenerational interviews, viewable on YouTube. We helped to sponsor Say Their Names, nine short plays and monologues on Zoom, honoring BIPoC women killed at the hands of police and written by BIPoC women writers from Honor Roll, women+ playwrights over 40.
 
2019: We performed Reproductive Freedom Is What We Want at Ridgewood Unitarian Society in New Jersey, and at The People’s Forum in Manhattan, featuring Donna Jean Fogel, Alinca Hamilton and Carl H. Jaynes, under the direction of Francesca Mantani Arkus. The selections incorporated pieces from the Reproductive Freedom Festival and the Living Newspaper Project, as well as others from the Words of Choice repertoire. We appeared on WBAI Joy of Resistance about the program. We developed and conducted new Reproductive Freedom Walking Tours in Lower Manhattan in conjunction with Social Justice Tours, covering New York’s rich past and present. The tour was featured on WNYC/NPR, Ozy.com and other publications. We released a paperback, Short Plays on Reproductive Freedom and health a launch party with readings by a half-dozen writers and actors at Bluestockings Books, NYC.
 
2018: We joined with Ego Actus Theatre Company in New York to create a Living Newspaper Women’s Edition on Governor’s Island as part of a residency at the Laboratorium of Rising Sun Performance Company. Four writers, Cassandra Medley, Brigitte Barnett, Jessica Carmona and Cindy Cooper, joined with six actors to create five new works under the direction of Joan Kane. We undertook the publication of Short Plays on Reproductive Freedom, an anthology from the Reproductive Freedom Festival and more. Our Words of Choice DVD, created with Linda Haskins, was prepared for rerelease by a new video company.
 
2017: Words of Choice was honored with a THANK YOU AWARD from the Quixote Foundation in Seattle, WA for bringing “honest, funny and truth-telling power to … the importance of a woman’s right to choose.”  We began a Community Outreach program, teaching Creative Theatre and Arts at a facility for women exiting prison. We performed a Live Radio Program, Reproductive Freedom Is What We Want, with the International Women Artists’ Salon; the performance selections are posted on SoundCloud.
 
2016:  The Reproductive Freedom Festival by Words of Choice mounted a Live and Live Arts Streaming production of 31 short plays on reproductive rights, health, freedom and justice. Also streamed were two original songs and electronic art. Thirty-five actors and seven directors participated. Working with Live Streaming partner VirtualArts.TV, the festival reached all 50 states and nine countries. Nearly 10,000 people watched. The Reproductive Freedom Festival opened a new Activist Page for follow-up. In addition to several articles about the Festival, Cindy Cooper discussed it on the radio show, Issues for our Tissues. In fall 2016, the Reproductive Freedom Anthology of Indie Theatre Now published the works produced in the Reproductive Freedom Festival.
 
2015: Words of Choice was honored with THE VISION AWARD by the Abortion Conversation Project. We reach our 300th entry on the blog, Up the Creativity, about creative actions around reproductive rights. We showed our short film on Reproductive Justice at film festivals, and created a special live performance, Reproductive Freedom on Fire, for The Left Forum. We screened our Reproductive Justice Walking Tour film at Manhattan Plaza in New York City with the International Women Artists’ Salon. In August, Cindy Cooper delivered a paper on reproductive rights, sexual violence and domestic workers at an international conference in China.
 
2014: We developed and created the first Reproductive Justice Walking Tour in New York City, under the artistic direction of Stacey Linnartz with 12 performers along the way and a multitude of tours leaving every half-hour. The Walk ended at Judson Memorial Church for a Reproductive Rights Festival with booths, activities, and additional performances. We developed a Toolkit for local communities to create their own walking tours. We released a short film about the Reproductive Justice Walking Tour, edited by Therese Shechter and presented at the Feminist Film Festival of WBAI, and in London’s multinational celebration of choice with a SKYPE talkback. We worked with Missouri-based FAITH ALOUD to explore a new experiment with a performative version of 40 Days of Prayer for Reproductive Justice.
 
2013: We participated in the first WiredArtsFest, live streaming twice across the country and across the world from live performances in New York City, with talkbacks afterwood and a conversation with activists in Ireland. We reached 35,000 thousand people via online platforms. We saw Words of Choice performed by other companies in Buffalo and Raleigh, NC.
 
2012: We presented special performances in New Jersey at Unitarian Universalist congregations and Ramapo College, and designed and distritubed new “activist cards” to help people take concrete steps to support reproductive Freedom. We performed at the feminist art gallery show, Against the Backlash, sponsored by SOHO21 in Chelsea, New York City.
 
2011: We did a series of performances in New Jersey, which suddenly found itself under siege by a newly-elected anti-abortion governor. In addition to raising awareness, events raised funds to help “Words of Choice” do outreach to embattled doctors. In July, we supported Dr. LeRoy Carhart, a doctor who had worked with Dr. George Tiller, in Germantown, MD, along with Summer of Choice/Summer of Trust, prochoice activities designed to fight back against anti-abortion protesters from Operation Rescue; we invited visual artist Heather Ault to display her work at the packed performance. We continued to produce short video projects with other reproductive rights organizations, including Raising Women’s Voices. In March, the Social Justice Performers at the University of Missouri performed “Words of Choice” from Front Lines, and Planned Parenthood held a special reception that Cindy Cooper attended.
 
2010: We continued Creativity Workshops and performances, including at the Amnesty Human Rights Art Festival in Maryland, and other states. We produced a video to draw attention to emerging reproductive health concerns in a campaign, TellWashingtonNow.com, in collaboration with Raising Women’s Voices, Physicians for Reproductive Choice, National Women’s Health Network, National Network of Abortion Funds and the Reproductive Health and Technologies Program. We did a series of performances in New York State — Long Island, Upstate and in the New York City.
 
2009: Our first collection of works was published in Front Lines: Political Plays by American Women. Words of Choice II was performed  live on WBAI radio in honor of Dr. Tiller, also the subject of our essay in Women’s eNews, “Dr. Tiller Leaves His Attitude for Us to Carry On.”  Words of Choice and Cindy Cooper, founder, were honored with the 2009 Anne E. Fisher Champion of Choice Award by NARAL Pro-Choice America. Words of Choice released a promotional video, created by Diana Whitcroft.
 
2008. Under the creative direction of Francesca Mantani Arkus, we developed a series of workshops for new work mounted a second collection of works, called Words of Choice II: Let Reproductive Freedom Ring (See Selections). Francesca called it “a play of many tones.”  We toured Colorado to oppose a ballot measure that would have outlawed all abortion, to Oklahoma, and to Kansas to support Dr. George Tiller and 1100 Torches in memory of Jana Mackey.
 
2007: Performances of Words of Choice and our DVD included the works of a dozen writers, and we performed in collaboration with dozens of organizations in several states. In 2007, we released our DVD, directed by Linda Haskins and distributed by a national film network, and we began a blog on creativity and choice.
 
2006: Casts traveled to Iowa, Rhode Island, North Carolina, and, under the direction of Francesca Mantani Arkus, across the state of South Dakota before a vote on an abortion ban (it lost, thankfully). We performed at the EST Marathon of New Plays in New York City, directed by Susann Brinkley.
 
2005: Performances traveled to Kansas, where we worked with Dr. George Tiller, as well as in Missouri and Oklahoma, with a cast from St. Louis under the direction of Joan Lipkin.  A benefit performance with Planned Parenthood in New York at the Culture Project featured Emmy-Award winning performer Heather Tom and other well-known TV and stage performers under the direction of Peg Denithorne.
 
2004: Two casts toured 8 states, including Florida, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Illinois, Maryland and New Jersey. In New York, under the direction of Suzanne Bennett, an except was performed by Kathleen Turner at the Beacon Theatre, Stand Up for Choice.
 
2003: We presented performances in Washington, D.C., at several locations across Virginia (including Norfolk, Hampton, Arlington) in conjunction with Virginia NOW and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC). We presented a benefit performance at the Princeton Club in New York with guest speaker Sally Blackmun. We incorporated as a nonprofit.
 
2001-2002: We performed at a variety of venues and programs, including a benefit for Planned Parenthood of New York City at HERE Theatre, and in other locations, including Judson Memorial Church.
 
2000: Our first performance at Ceres Gallery in New York took place as part of a month-long art show sponsored by the Center for Reproductive Health and Rights (now the Center for Reproductive Rights), under the direction of Suzanne Bennett.
 
Where We Are
Words of Choice is based in New York City.  We’ve traveled to 20 states and worked with over 100 organizations to expand discussions about reproductive freedom. We’ve Live Streamed across the U.S. and the world. Contact us here.
%d bloggers like this: