A Triumph for Life in the NYC Theatre World!
When JJ Abrams announced plans to produce an Off-Broadway comedy about abortion, Phelim McAleer and his wife, Ann McElhinney, were spurred to respond. Their play, Oh Gosnell: The Truth About Abortion overcame significant obstacles to open on the same night as Abrams’ play. The Gosnell play’s limited run ends tomorrow, May 15.
McAleer met with me for an interview, which you can see below. He said, “If (Abrams) can do a play laughing about abortion, we can do a play that brings the truth.” McAleer saw their play with McElhinney, and he said it’s “neither funny nor about abortion.” He said that if they really did let people know what abortion is they’d lose half their audience. He said, “When you know what abortion is, it’s really not all that funny.”
Stumbling Upon the Trial
McAleer learned about the Kermit Gosnell case when he was in Philadelphia, working on his film FrackNation. He told Politico he was motivated to make that film by the “one-sided approach taken by the media, ‘outsiders’ and ‘urban elites'” on the fracking process. He heard about the Gosnell trial and popped in as a curious journalist. He said:
I saw Gosnell sitting just a few feet away, smirking and smiling. I saw pictures on the wall that were incredible, unbelievable. I heard evidence that was unbelievable, but the most shocking thing of all was when I looked behind me, and row after row of empty press seats: There were no journalists there, only local journalists. So I felt this was a story that was not being told… and if it’s not being told, I need to tell it.”
He and McElhinney co-wrote the book Gosnell: The Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer, and then produced the film Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer. In their Indiegogo campaign video McAleer said:
Kermit Gosnell is the most prolific serial killer in American history, but almost no one knows who he is. The media has basically ignored his crime and his trial. He ran an abortion clinic in Philadelphia, where he delivered live, viable babies and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors.
In that video McElhinney said:
According to expert testimony from neonatologists these babies fought for their lives and suffered tremendous pain, but the mainstream media or Hollywood don’t think this is a story. Gosnell killed more people than Gary Ridgway (48 murders), John Wayne Gacy (33), the Zodiac Killer (five known victims) and Ted Bundy (30) combined (about 116). In a 30-year killing spree, it is thought (Gosnell) killed many thousands of babies.
McElhinney correlated the fact that legacy media failed to report on this case with the Grand Jury’s explanation of why nothing was done about Gosnell’s crimes for three decades:
Bureaucratic inertia isn’t exactly news. We understand that. But we think this was something more. We think the reason no one acted is because the women in question were poor and of color, because the victims were infants without identities, and because the subject was the political football of abortion.
In our interview McAleer pointed out that “a pro-choice, Republican governor… Tom Ridge…who thought he had to be pro-choice to win Pennsylvania… allowed (Gosnell) to kill and kill and kill because (Ridge) stopped inspections of abortion clinics when he became governor.”
In the end, Gosnell was convicted of three murders and 21 felony counts of illegal late-term abortion, and 211 counts of violating the 24-hour informed consent law.
To fund the film, McAleer and McElhinney raised $2.4 million from about 30,000 backers. Gosnell was released in theaters on October 12, 2018. It’s available now on DVD and for Video-on-Demand. McAleer and McElhinney appeared on IFA prayer webcasts to discuss the film.
McAleer and McElhinney were inspired to do the film in part because of a film about Jody Arias who was on trial for killing her boyfriend at the same time as Gosnell. Philadelphia media gave daily updates during that trial. In a similar way, JJ Abram’s play sparked the idea of bringing the Gosnell story to the New York stage. McAleer and McElhinney had done a podcast based on the court proceedings and thought it would make an excellent play, so when they learned Abrams’ “abortion comedy” was heading for the Big Apple, they set things in motion for their own play.
McAleer said, “There are forces that do not want this play to be shown… for the truth to be known.” Six days before previews, Theatre Row rejected their contract to host the play in one of their theatres, claiming fraud because the producers didn’t explain what their play was about—something they were not hiding—and because it was unsuitable for children. Meanwhile, they’re hosting H*tler’s Tasters, which “explores the way girls navigate sexuality… during the Third Reich.” The theatre warns that play is inappropriate for children 14 and under, and several of their other offerings also have age recommendations.
On the webcast series The Ann and Phelim Scoop, on April 27, McElhinney said of the New York theatre world, “Diversity is one thing that they really hate. They might like diversity in the color of people’s skin, but they certainly don’t like diversity when it comes to thinking.”
I’ve reached out to leaders at Theatre Row for a statement on why they rejected the play, and if they do respond, I’ll put it in the comments below this article.
But that was not the only obstacle for McAleer and McElhinney! Twenty-four hours before their first preview performance, two of the seven actors broke their contracts and walked off the show. In a newsletter McAleer wrote:
Apparently – these actors decided that the Truth was not for them. They decided that even though this is a completely verbatim play they did not like speaking the truth on stage. They said they didn’t like the content! Don’t forget, Oh Gosnell only uses actual trial and Grand Jury testimony – there is no drama added. Believe me there is enough truth and drama in the trial and conviction of Kermit Gosnell – I didn’t need to add any.
McAleer suspects that those actors timed their exit to stop the production, which they did for the first weekend, but the team rallied and opened in the Chain Studio Theatre on May 5, three days after the Politico leak that Roe v. Wade is about to be overturned. At a time when so many are looking into what abortion is, this play is there to explain it. McAleer said, “People need to know facts before they start legislating… advocating for legislation… protesting outside people’s houses….”
McAleer is pleased with audience response. He said one patron, “thought she was coming for a crime drama, which she (was), by the way… she’s pro-choice, and she was just going, ‘I have to re-think. I just don’t know what to think….’ It’s changing minds. It’s rattling people.”
On May 10 IFA reposted my article “The Matter of Life” about Tracy Robinson’s film, which will be in movie theaters May 16 and 17. A woman named Deborah posted this in the comments:
Awhile ago during a fast I heard the Spirit say, “Who will cry for the children?” I answered, Lord I will cry…. As I prayed over the leak and threats against the Supreme Court Justices concerning Roe v. Wade, I had a vision. I saw a huge hole begin to open in the middle of the United States. As I watched all of a sudden a geyser shot forth out of (America), vomiting tons and tons of blood and baby body parts! Little tiny legs, arms, hands and feet. I screamed, was crying (when I) came out of the vision…
I believe this play will bring many to cry for the children. McAleer said, “When you find out what (abortion) is, that changes everything.”
My Son Hunter
What’s next for McAleer and McElhinney? They’re in post-production for the film My Son Hunter, exposing the corruption of the Biden family, which they hope to release later this year. While filming, a gentleman came on set saying he was working on a documentary about Hunter Biden and wanted to cover their film. In a New York Post article McAleer said, “They seemed to never switch the camera off.” Then McAleer discovered why: He was Biden’s lawyer, Kevin Morris, spying on them.
Moving Out of Neutral
After our interview was over I asked McAleer what his view on abortion was before stepping into that trial. He said he was pro-abortion, but then he qualified, “I was actually neutral, which means I was pro-abortion.” Let’s pray his play moves many people from the neutral position.
Here’s my interview with McAleer:
Click here to see our reactions after seeing the play last night.
Post your prayer for the Gosnell play to bring greater awareness of what abortion really is, in this season where the leaker has inspired so many to look into it.
Rich Swingle has taught and performed in 39 nations on six continents, mostly with his own one-man plays. He’s also performed in more than forty film projects, including “Mine,” where his character helps a woman who had an abortion start the healing process. He and his bride, Joyce Swingle, another contributing writer for IFA, now have 37 screen children. The Swingles live in New York City. www.RichDrama.com. Photo Credit: Rich Swingle.
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