Mark Weber

Production about horrors of sexual trafficking deserves support

Sometimes I check out a local play and walk away so inspired and moved, I know that the story deserves a far broader audience than what it can garner in our area alone.

Such was the case with She Has A Name, a powerful production written by local author Andrew Kooman and staged last spring at the Scott Block and prior to that in Calgary. It’s a gripping portrayal of the horrors of a girl being stuck in human trafficking in Thailand. From start to finish, audiences were disturbed, challenged, provoked and essentially ‘woken up’ to these horrors – an all-too-common reality in our world today.

It was clear that Kooman’s work deserved to be taken clear across the country and beyond. It had already landed significant critical acclaim as winner of the Scripts At Work/Alberta Playwright Network Award in 2009.

Well, it looks like that dream of showcasing the play further may just become a reality in 2012 – but producers need community support to help make that happen.

A fundraising campaign spearheaded by Burnt Thicket Theatre and Raise Their Voice Against Injustice has been launched to take She Has A Name to 13 cities across North America next year. They aim to run about 80 shows.

The IndieGoGo campaign for the ‘She Has A Name Tour’ aims to raise $10,000 this summer through social networking. Actors have to be hired for the duration of the planned run, to begin with.

And beyond the IndieGoGo fundraising campaign Burnt Thicket and Raise Their Voice will also unveil a multi-faceted approach that includes corporate sponsorship, private donations, gifts in kind and special events to raise the projected $400,000 needed to ultimately take the production on the road.

For those unfamiliar with the play, the story follows a Canadian investigator who poses as a john to build a case against a brothel of trafficking girls into Bangkok.

He must win the trust of a young girl forced to work as a prostitute who is known as ‘Number 18’ and convince her to risk her life to testify for the sake of justice.

Kooman was inspired to write the story based on real-life incidents, and thanks to his remarkable skills at nailing the realities of international social justice issues, the play unfolded seamlessly. People were talking about it for weeks afterward, and I think one of the biggest points of discussion was ‘How can I make a difference?’

Well, this is the perfect opportunity for folks to get behind a tremendously worthy cause. According to ACT Alberta, which is a coalition of government agencies, non-governmental organizations, survivors of trafficking and the general public concerned with responding to human trafficking in this province, the most common form of human trafficking (79%) is sexual exploitation.

Eighty per cent of all trafficking victims are women and half of all cases are children.

According to the United Nations, about 27 million people are also being held against their will. It’s virtually unimaginable.

As already mentioned, people often say they would like to make a difference when it comes to helping alleviate suffering in the world, but they feel overwhelmed at the prospect. The issues are so widespread that we sometimes feel like doing our part won’t make much of a difference. So we do nothing and hope someone else picks up the cause.

Supporting She Has A Name as plans are made to take it to the masses is a terrific means of shedding light and awareness on a horrible situation that plagues the world today. The more activism, awareness and conversation that can be drummed up about the dark world of human trafficking, the better.

To find out ways that you can help support the project as tour plans take shape, check out www.andrewkooman.com and www.indiegogo.com/She-Has-a-Name-2012-Tour.

editor@reddeerexpress.com

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