Play Preview: Melissa's Choice

With so many controversial issues to debate, it’s difficult to have an honest discussion without slinging memes as powerful truth. Storytelling allows for a humanization that can connect audiences with honest emotions that come with making a difficult choice. On Thursday, October 6th, the UNT Theatre Department and ACLU welcomes people from different perspectives to view the play Melissa’s Choice in which the character has a complicated decision to make when facing an unwanted pregnancy.

Honest discussion is absolutely the intended goal. Opening week will feature a series of panels that include former Texas Senator Wendy Davis in the same panel as Michele Baker, the archdiocese of Ft. Worth. Davis' presence was specifically requested by playwright Steven Somkin and made possible by the sponsorship of ACLU. Somkin (who is based in New York) especially wanted his play to be performed in Texas due to the recent legislation issues concerning abortion.

Director Andy Harris says, “It’s a democratic open-ended process and we hope we contribute in a positive way to what we’re sure is going to be an ongoing debate.” He believes plays can take on a contemporary issue and provide reasonable cause for political or social change. Harris has previously worked on a play written by Somkin, and was attracted to the play because of the social impact the story can have on young adults in the community.

In the play, the title character is a successful lawyer who’s pregnancy tangles her in a web of conflicting values and emotions. Her lover who impregnated her will only stay if she chooses an abortion. An ex-boyfriend who still pines for Melissa is willing to father her child, but he contrasts sharply with her political values. Or she could deny both suitors and raise her child as a single mother. She struggles with this dilemma while camping in Oregon with two guides, one of which is a single mother of two. 

Melissa’s Choice: An American Dilemma opens Thursday, October 6th at the University Theatre inside the RTFP building on UNT Campus. The run of engagement lasts through the 16th with Thursday - Saturday shows starting at 7:30pm. Sunday shows begin at 2pm. Duration is around 2 hours with an intermission. Panel discussions on the first 3 nights are expected to last around an hour.

Schedule for "Whose Choice is It?" panel discussions presented by ACLU

Thursday, October 6th
Wendy Davis (Former TX Senator)
Amy Murrell (UNT Psychology)
Keri Caruthers (UNT Alumna)
Michele Baker (North Texas Catholic, Archdiocese of Ft. Worth)

Friday, October 7th
Terri Burke (ACLU)
Jennifer Lanter (Gladney Adoption)
Dr. Rafael Major (UNT Honorary College)
Abir Arabi (UNT Honors Student, Economics)

Saturday, October 8th
Rev. Dr. Daniel Kanter (Unitarian Church of Dallas/ Planned Parenthood)
Dr. Deborah Needleman Armintor (UNT English, Sexuality Studies, Jewish Studies)
Amanda Kallas (Eagles for Life)


Header image design by Jason Lee