Local author set to stage new play in City

Scourge of human trafficking explored in production

POWERFUL PLAY-- Denise Wong and Aaron Krogman rehearse a scene from She Has A Name

Local author Andrew Kooman is relishing the premiere of his latest creative venture – a powerful theatrical production called She Has A Name.

Winner of the Scripts At Work/Alberta Playwright Network Award in 2009, She Has A Name provides profound insight into human trafficking in South East Asia.

Calgary-based Burnt Thicket Theatre, in partnership with Raise Their Voice Against Injustice are presenting She Has A Name through to March 5 at Calgary’s Epcor Centre and in Red Deer from March 9-12 at the Scott Block Theatre. Curtain is 8 p.m.

Kooman said She Has a Name is based on an incident in Thailand where a storage container transporting more than 100 people ran out of gas and was simply abandoned. Ultimately about 50 people lost their lives.

That tragedy was a kind of a trigger for the plot which is the story of Jason, a young Canadian lawyer who is fighting to build a legal case against a human trafficking ring in Thailand. His investigation focuses on ‘Number 18’, a prostitute working in a Bangkok brothel whose testimony could make or break the case. Can he win the trust of 18 and convince her to risk her life to testify for the sake of justice?

“Both Jason (Aaron Krogman) and number 18 (Denise Wong) give us remarkable personal insights into the depth of the problem of human trafficking,” explains director Stephen Waldschmidt.

“They show us the complexity of the underbelly of this horrific practice. Krogman in particular show his depth of range as an actor with his portrayal as number 18’s pimp (Boss) – a violent and ruthless thug bent on using young girls for his personal gain.”

Rounding out the cast are Sienna Howell-Holden (Mama), Glenda Warkentin (Marta) and Cari Russell (Ali).

The production team includes Luke Ertman (composer/sound design), Jaylene Wiebe (costume design), Anton deGroot (light design), Alida Lowe (production management) and Julie Serger (stage manager).

Kooman started work on She Has a Name in 2008, and the play has since been work-shopped and garnering increased attention as word of its message and poignancy has spread. The two-act production has also landed solid feedback from audiences who have attended readings both in Alberta and the U.S.

“She Has A Name is a story that still haunts me today,” said Waldschmidt. “It started at my first reading two years ago. The play gripped me viscerally and motivated me to direct it and share its message with others. It also forced me to think a lot about the injustice of human trafficking.”

Kooman regularly travels internationally to write and partners with non-profit organizations to teach on writing, creativity and identity. He has a gift for showing the harsh realities many in the world face while pointing readers to practical ways they can help make a difference.

Earlier this year, a book was released featuring stories by Kooman chronicling the plight of migrants and refugees in Malaysia. He wrote 26 pieces for Disappointed by Hope: 30 Days of Prayer. Although the stories are fictionalized for confidentiality reasons, they are based on actual accounts, case studies and interviews of refugees.

For more information about Kooman’s work, check out www.andrewkooman.com. For tickets for either the Red Deer or Calgary performances or more about corporate sponsorship opportunities for She Has a Name, visit www.burntthicket.com.

Tickets for She Has A Name are $20 each. They can be ordered online at www.burntthicket.com.

She Has A Name also carries a warning for mature subject matter and strong language and is not suitable for children.

mweber@reddeerexpress.com

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