FringeArts' High Pressure Fire Service Festival, celebrating work by Philadelphia artists, continues with Lightning Rod Special’s The Appointment. Created by lead artist Alice Yorke, The Appointment is a musical satire about the American abortion debate.
“The inspiration for The Appointment comes from the idea that the life of the fetus is more valuable than the life of the person carrying the fetus,” explains Yorke. “I think it’s absurd and hypocritical and my anger stems from how absurd this ‘conversation’ is."
Yorke’s research included direct observation at Philadelphia’s Women’s Medical Fund and at the Allentown Women’s Center. A first draft of The Appointment was first shared in August 2017.
Yorke chose musical satire to anchor this story about the economic, societal and political systems that relate to reproductive health and women’s rights to provoke and challenge the audience. “The show is intentionally confrontational,” Yorke says. “It asks the audience to confront something. . . . With song and satire, you create space in your brain for seeing something in a new way.”
Creating context through creative conversation
Yorke is sensitive to the reality that this work of theater may bring up a range of reactions for audience members. Following each show in the festival is some kind of experience to contextualize the show. After the Saturday, March 23 matinee, a discussion with community stakeholders, including Elicia Gonzales, executive director of Women’s Medical Fund, will be moderated by Carol Zou, program director at Asian Arts Initiative. After the Sunday, March 24, matinee, audience members will have a chance to take art in a “crafternoon”—engaging with art, poetry, or music in response to the show’s themes. “Not everyone responds to a Q and A discussion. . . . The crafternoon gives audience members a chance to respond creatively,” Yorke explains.
She’s also excited for a Sex Ed Trivia Night following March 29’s performance—it will be led by Dr. Timaree Schmit, a sexologist, professor and local columnist whose work appears at Philly.com.
Ultimately, Yorke hopes that audience members will not only leave thinking about the abortion debate in new ways but will also feel engaged about getting involved with reproductive justice work locally in Philadelphia. She has reason to be hopeful—when The Appointment was being workshopped with five shows back in 2017, six audience members signed up to be clinic escorts. Information about Women’s Medical Fund and Allentown Women’s center will be available at every show.
The Appointment runs March 20 to 31 at FringeArts, 140 N. Columbus Blvd. Check FringeArts online for times and tickets.