Local playwright looking for more support to launch tour

A local playwright who writes powerfully about social justice issues is turning to the community to support his efforts in raising money for his play which touches on the issue of human trafficking.

Andrew Kooman is the author of the play entitled She Has A Name which was shown in Red Deer and Calgary in 2010. He is looking to raise $125,000 by Feb. 29th to allow his play to go on tour throughout Canada.

Kooman’s total fundraising goal is $383,000. That money will allow the production to tour for six months across the nation.

“We need the $125,000 to ensure we go on tour. I’ve been blown away so far by the generosity of people in Central Alberta who’ve given toward the tour,” said Kooman.

“So far most of the donations have been from private donors. We’re looking for corporate sponsors as well, including gifts in kind like a tour vehicle that can transport six adults across the country.”

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 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.

“The majority of the costs for the production are for personnel, paying five actors and a stage manager to tour. We can recoup $160,000 of those expenses through ticket sales.”

The group plans to tour from May, starting in Lethbridge, until October, finishing the tour in Red Deer from Oct. 2-6. So far 10 venues across Canada have been booked or confirmed.

Kooman’s passion for the issue of human trafficking is evident as he continues to fight to make a difference.

“This is a story that needs to be told. Child sex slavery exists, is unthinkable and horrific, but very real in Canada and abroad,” he said. “Audiences that have seen the play have been impacted and compelled to address the issue for years to come and we want to multiply that experience by the thousands on tour. It also is unique as a piece of theatre, drawing an audience that includes people who are new to theatre, which is a great story for the patronage of the arts in Alberta.”

He added the Central Alberta community has been supportive in his efforts.

“Central Albertans have been incredibly generous, both in feedback and generosity. I continue to have people come up to me and talk to me about their experience of the play. I’ve received so much encouragement from people in Red Deer and area who want to see the play tour,” he said. “One recent example of generous financial giving was the Ride for Refuge we hosted in Gull Lake. We staged a 70-kilometre bike ride to raise money and awareness for people vulnerable to human trafficking and we raised over $30,000 in one day. The play received $20,000 of this.”

Meanwhile, Kooman hopes to venture across the border with She Has A Name.

“I’m encouraged by the interest there is in this story. I’m talking with a partner organization in New Zealand who is interested in bringing the play on tour there,” he said. “I’ve had requests about the play from as far as the UK to Malaysia and have interest in the play from a number of people across the U.S. My goal is to pull off a successful tour in Canada, and I hope that from there, the doors will open for the play to be staged in other countries. Canada first, though.”

Donations can be made online at www.shehasaname.net or by writing a cheque to Burnt Thicket Theatre (whose address is also on the site). Donations are tax deductible and corporate sponsors will be advertised in different ways across the country in the cities the play will tour. For a tour schedule visit www.shehasaname.net/tour-2012.

efawcett@reddeerexpress.com

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