RU alum’s “Destigmatized” challenges societal views of pregnancy, sex and more


A performance of Colleen Renee Lis’ “Destigmatized: Our Bodies, Our Rights, Our Stories” took place on March 6 in Tohill Theater. Rowan students were able to attend for free while the price of general admission was $20. All of the proceeds from the performance went to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. 

The play consisted of a series of true stories, some first-person narratives and some researched pieces about sex, birth control, pregnancy scares, abortion, adoption, miscarriage, sexual assault and healthcare in the United States. Performances began taking place shortly after the 2022 leak of the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe V. Wade. 

“I had been holding on to this secret for nearly 10 years and after the SCOTUS draft leaked, I was just so angry and scared. Within 12 hours after it leaked, I had this idea that we should just do a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood,” said Lis. 

The first show raised over $3,000 for Planned Parenthood. It was only supposed to be a one-night performance to fundraise, but as more people shared their experiences and more theaters showed interest in the project, the show grew from there. 

The performance piece was conceptualized, directed and written by Lis with contributing writers Nicole Boscarino and Mary Kate Portera. The Tohill performance featured Lis, Boscarino, Elizabeth Deal, Ashley Griffiths, Emily Kimble, Lauren Patanovich and Alayna Spencer. 

The full cast performed the introduction titled, “I’m Not Okay, You’re Not Okay, We’re Not Okay,” which gave the background on why the show was created. In addition, the introduction stressed that some women and people with uteruses will never want children and contraceptives are not just a temporary measure for them.

The first monologue, “A Mother’s Choice,” was performed by Deal. The piece covered the story of a woman who wanted a child, but her first pregnancy developed a fetal abnormality with no chance of survival, so she felt she had to make the decision to abort. 

Allie Coeby is a student who attended the performance.

“I’ve learned a lot about Planned Parenthood… [it] helps me with understanding the concepts of abortion and birth control. I just really liked it. It was very eye-opening,” Coeby said.  

The second monologue titled “Anticipation Gone Awry” was performed by Lis and covered the topic of sex going wrong even in the best of circumstances. The monologue featured a woman and her friend who consummated years of flirting but the encounter ended with the condom stuck in her vagina. 

The third monologue, “The Price of Peace of Mind,” was performed by Kimble and dealt with the process of getting a hormonal IUD and the physical side effects the device can have. 

Afterward, Griffiths performed “Lysistrata Defense,” which details a woman in a failing marriage choosing to withhold sex from her husband out of fear that he might become desperate and sabotage the condoms in an attempt to make her stay with him. 

“Precedented Times” was performed by Lis, Boscarino and Spencer. The performers spoke about how the field of gynecology was built off of the suffering of three enslaved women named Betsey, Anarcha and Lucy. These three women were experimented on without consent. The piece emphasized that the three women continue to get very little historical recognition. 

Boscarino wrote the piece she performed titled “I Don’t Want To Have This Dumb-Ass Conversation With You,” from her own lived experience as an adoptee. The piece centered on how Boscarino was put up for adoption after her birth mother had become pregnant through an extramarital affair.  

“My piece in particular, I feel because I’m adopted, I have a particular perspective on reproductive rights,” said Boscarino. “I’m just so happy and honored that Colleen has allowed me a space to speak my feelings and opinions.”

The performance ended with a call to action for the people in the audience to speak up, share their stories, call their representatives and donate to any reproductive rights organization that they could.

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