(CINCINNATI) — Unswaddling secrets. Terminating shame. Bearing witness. Fostering community. These are THE STORK FILES: TRUE STORIES OF ADOPTION, ABORTION, AND HAVING NO CHOICE, a “play in gestation” by Julie Coppens, performing in a one-night stand at the Cincinnati Fringe Festival, 6:45 p.m. Thursday, June 8, at Know Theatre, 1120 Jackson Street.
“My birth was a covert operation; my adoption, a comedy of errors,” says Cincinnati-based journalist/theatremaker Julie Coppens (pronounced COPE-ens). “With THE STORK FILES, I hope to inspire the kind of personal truth-telling that cuts through political rhetoric, deepening our understanding of these complex social phenomena that have such profound impacts on our lives and communities.“
Part of the 2023 Fringe Development lineup, THE STORK FILES is a funny, provocative, and poignant work-in-progress, featuring local favorite actors Sara Mackie and Victoria Hawley in various roles inspired by some of Coppens’ real-life sheroes. The script is evolving through research and collaborations with Adoption Network Cleveland, Planned Parenthood of Southwestern Ohio, the Museum of Motherhood in St. Petersburg, Florida, and other organizational allies. Individuals can share their own experiences of adoption, abortion, m/othering and more via a free “Sew’n’Tell” crafting/storytelling workshop, 5:30 p.m. April 30 at Know Theatre; at open rehearsals with talkbacks, TBA; and on June 8, an interactive lobby gallery display, “recording womb” podcast booth, and post-performance panel discussion. An interactive website (www.thestorkfiles.org) is also in the works.
“Like any expectant mother, I’m slightly terrified—but ready for this baby to live and breathe and reveal what it wants to be,” says Coppens, who originally conceived THE STORK FILES as a magazine article, “Who Am I?,” published in Dramatics in 2016, tracing the adoption theme through time. “These stories are deep. These stories are powerful. It matters how they are told, and who gets to tell them. For us, now, in 2023 in the United States,” she adds, “it matters a lot.”
THE STORK FILES synopsis:
In the summer of 1972, a suburban Cincinnati mom brought home a new wig… and an adopted baby. Five decades (and a few Supreme Court decisions) later, one journalist/theatremaker considers her unlikely “life” story, amidst the reproductive-rights tug-of-war—and invites others to share their truths—with this funny, poignant work-in-progress.
About the creator:
Like a lot of adoptees, Julie Coppens is a shape-shifter, having played many roles over a long career in theatre, journalism, nonprofit leadership, and parenting. She produced the student podcast Democracy & Z and the “What Does Justice Look Like?” YouTube series for Cincinnati Public Radio; previously she served on the national publications staff of the Educational Theatre Association, as an editor of Dramatics magazine and director of the Thespian Playworks program for high school writers. In between came a seven-year stint in Alaska, where she led youth programming and communications at Perseverance Theatre, among other creative projects. Offstage, Julie’s a longtime volunteer and current Board President of Ski for Light, Inc., which introduces the sport of cross-country skiing to adults with visual or mobility impairments.
In May, Julie will be featured in the Adoption Network Cleveland’s Monday Evening Speaker Series, 8-9 p.m. Monday, May 15, on Zoom (register in advance at www.adoptionnetwork.org).
THE STORK FILES: TRUE STORIES OF ADOPTION, ABORTION, AND HAVING NO CHOICE
A “play in gestation” by Julie Coppens
Performs at the Cincinnati Fringe Festival, one night only!
6:45 p.m. Thursday, June 8
Know Theatre, 1120 Jackson Street, Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
Show runs about 40 minutes, with talkback immediately following.
Advance reservations recommended. Tickets are $18-$20, or use a multi-show Fringe Festival pass, available at cincyfringe.com, by calling 513-300-5669, or at Fringe Headquarters, 1120 Jackson Street.