Middlebury's production of Jane: Abortion and the Underground
In January 2020, Carly Thomsen’s GSFS 203: “Performing Reproductive Politics” class put on a production of Jane at Middlebury College. The goal of the intensive four week course was two-fold: to learn about how Feminist and Queer Studies can be used in the service of abortion justice and also to put on a production that would allow us to move our conversations beyond our classroom. We read various texts related to reproductive politics. Taite Shomo, a Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies and Art History joint major and student in the course, directed the play and various students supported Taite by working on set and costume design. The majority of the students neither had prior experience with theater nor had taken courses in Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies. We saw the composition of our course as one of its strengths, enabling interesting conversations and possibilities for collaboration.
Funds from the Gensler Family Fund allowed Thomsen to bring Dr. Annika Speer, a Professor of Teaching and Theater scholar at the University of California, Riverside, to Middlebury to provide professional directorial support to the students. The students in the course benefited from having a Zoom conversation about activism with Heather Booth, the founder of the Jane Collective, and from the generosity of playwright Paula Kamen.