Midwest Premiere of Suzan Lori Parks’ “Fucking A” Continues Conversation

Youd think itd be hard

To make something horrid

Its easy.

— “The Making of a Monster,” Fucking A, Suzan Lori Parks



This past Sunday, I celebrated Easter by shivering (apparently, it’s not yet time to take out my cropped, open-weave sweaters) in the beautiful Pegasus Players’ space — the Beacon Street Hull House — attending the professional Midwest premiere of Suzan Lori Parks’ Fucking A (from her Red Letter Plays).  I definitely felt Jesus giving this fallen Catholic the stink-eye from above as I watched the story of Hester, the stigmatized abortionist, her imprisoned son, her prostitute best friend, and the “rich bitch” – the infertile wife of the town’s mayor – on one of his holy days.  But during the year that has brought us forced transvaginal ultrasounds, a rejection of the Violence Against Women Act, and the Komen Foundation being invaded by religious fundamentalist interests, I could hardly miss it.

It’s not that Fucking A covers any new ground.  The prison system as exploitative, women’s reproductive choices as limited and often vilified, violence as method of social control, economic and racial differences as social caste system . . . all are not only all too real but have been explored in fiction before and will continue to be.  The appeal of Fucking A, rather, is the unblinking bombardment of the audience with these darkest, most shameful elements of our society – the audience simply can not turn away from the horror or self-soothe the way we do when reading the morning paper.  During this particular production, a fellow audience member yelled out, “Jesus!” when Hester emerged from behind a curtain, her apron and forearms completely covered in blood from a recently-performed abortion – succinctly summarizing the general sentiment of the room.

This Midwest production of Fucking A was presented by the UrbanTheater Company and funded through individual donations collected on the company’s KickStarter page.  The UrbanTheater Company was founded in 2005 by a Latino ensemble and is committed to presenting art that “brings awareness to the social issues impacting Chicago communities.”  Both the donors and anyone who attends Fucking A can agree that Suzan-Lori Parks’ play certainly fits the bill.  The play premiered over a decade ago in Texas and is set in a dystopian future, but unfortunately its plot and characters could easily be transferred to “Anywhere, USA” today.

All of us who see or read Fucking A may not be abortionists or even have had an abortion ourselves, but Hester’s (played by the amazingly-talented Kelly Owens) surprise at being found beautiful and capable of love by the town’s butcher (whose character is inhabited by another fantastic performer: the simultaneously gentle and gruff Madrid St. Angelo) is heartbreakingly familiar to us.  Lyndsay Rose Kane’s “Canary Mary,” the prostitute being kept by the Mayor in defiance of his wife’s pleading, haunting song, performance of “Gilded Cage” in which she speaks to the temptation of staying in an unfulfilling relationship for the promise of financial stability touches the fears of all women, especially lower-income, socially-marginalized women such as herself.

Ultimately, Suzan Lori Parks’ Fucking A is a conversation piece.  Whether you get a chance to see the play before it closes on Sunday, you pick up a copy of the script and read it in the privacy of your home, or simply use this post’s cursory summary of Fucking A’s main themes as a jumping-off point, in our current political climate, it is vital to add your voice to the exchange.

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