“After Roe” Offers A Balm of Hope

“After Roe” at Lineage Performing Arts Center through November 17

PHOTO: Lineage Performing Arts Center | South Pasadena News | The cast of "After Roe" at Lineage Performing Arts Center in Pasadena.

Like millions of women across the country, Lineage PAC artistic director Hilary Thomas was devastated and in shock on June 24, 2022, the day the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. As she has always done, Thomas turned to her art to process her feelings and look for answers and hope. The result is “After Roe”, a collaboration between Planned Parenthood Pasadena/San Gabriel Valley and Lineage that fuses dance, theater and song to elucidate real stories of abortion as we look to a new post-Roe country. Directed and choreographed by Thomas, the show features a diverse group of women performing song, dance and spoken word inspired by true stories gathered by Thomas and her sister. Something her sister said when they began the project made it into the piece – “Art is my balm. Not money. Not voting booths. Not shouts in the street. We need them all. But art is my balm.” And indeed, the journey they take us on – through anger, hurt, shame, and humor – ultimately becomes a balm of hope.

PHOTO: Lineage Performing Arts Center | South Pasadena News | Elizabeth Gracen and the cast of “After Roe” on stage at Lineage Performing Arts Center in Pasadena.

The choreography is powerful and performed exquisitely by dancers Thomas, Brittany Daniels, Teya Wolvington, Ericalynn Priolo and Molly Mattei. There is live music performed by Cynthia Crass on piano and vocals (she also musically directs with Jana Souza), Diana Leon on violin and vocals, and Jana Nakoa once again lending her ethereal vocals to elevate a moment. The ensemble all play multiple roles with each having standout moments. Mataji Booker Graham delivers a moving monologue and a capella performance of her original song. Elizabeth Gracen is compelling as a mother desperate to connect to her teenage daughter and chilling as a pro-life advocate. Maya Bishop is heartbreaking as a young pregnant teen, M Cantu passionately leads us through a history lesson in women’s rights and the cases surrounding abortion, Keila Joy Fisher is fiercely indignant and Diana Leon has some very sweet, funny moments and shows a lovely vulnerability.

There is anger and pain in this piece to be sure – in fact one piece is danced against a backdrop of nothing but women’s screams – but there is also light, as there always is in darkness. The light of humor, of shared experience, of compassion and understanding. Ultimately, it is an invitation to bring these stories into the light of day in order to find a way forward.

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“After Roe” continues with two more performances Tuesday November 15 at 7pm and Thursday November 17 at 7pm. Tickets at LineagePac.org Tickets must be purchased in advance. No tickets will be sold at the door. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Planned Parenthood Pasadena/San Gabriel Valley. COVID NOTE: masks are required at all times at Lineage.

Due to language and sensitive subject matter, discretion is advised when considering bringing younger viewers.