Drama reveals tragedy of human trafficking

The Rimbey Chapter of Amnesty International is doing its part to raise community awareness about the tragedy of human trafficking.

The Rimbey Chapter of Amnesty International is doing its part to raise community awareness about the tragedy of human trafficking.

The group is arranging for a bus to travel to Red Deer so they can watch the powerful drama, She Has A Name, which will be presented at the Scott Block Theatre Oct. 2 to 6.

A matinee performance will also be held on Oct. 6, following which the audience is invited to a talk-back session with a panel including a former prostitute, two representatives from international organizations who have helped remove children from sex rings and an RCMP officer.

Anna van Haastert, a member of the local Amnesty Chapter, said the play is heart-wrenching, raw and a real eye opener about human trafficking.

“It is a voice for the voiceless,” she said. “And it’s a Canadian project dealing with human rights.”

The play, She has A Name, by award winning playwright Andrew Kooman, is a story about a Canadian lawyer working undercover to expose a human trafficking ring based in Thailand. To win his case, the lawyer needs to convince his key witness, a young woman forced to work as a prostitute and known only as Number 18, to risk her life and testify.

The voices of four female victims who did not survive being sex slaves add to the chilling drama.

Rimbey native Alysa van Haastert plays the role of Ali, the lawyer’s wife, who lives at home in Canada with their two young daughters. Although separated from Ali by the Pacific Ocean, Jason draws strength from his wife and confidante via telephone and by video through Skype.

Van Haastert, who also doubles as a voice in the play, said her role is challenging and rewarding.

“It’s a really beautiful part of the story,” said van Haastert.

The 23-year-old actress, who graduated from Rosebud School of the Arts earlier this year, said the play is a moving portrait of human trafficking that carries with it an urgent message.

“You have to be brave to see the play. It’s hard, but it’s the first step (toward awareness) and you will leave really impacted and moved.”

Playwright Andrew Kooman said the tragedy of Number 18’s plight in She Has A Name highlights real justice needs to be secured for the real victims around the world. It also suggests that justice can only be realized if real people know, care and take informed and decisive action.

“Telling stories that remind us of the immeasurable value of human life is the first step of many to transform real world stories of injustice and tragedy into stories of redemption and hope.”

Kooman said it is a privilege for him to have his play go across Canada and he is pleased with the positive response it has received.

“I love the theatre and I’m passionate about this issue.”

Number 18 is played by Vancouver actress Evelyn Chew and Vancouver and Seattle-based actor Carol Kennedy plays Jason, the Canadian lawyer.

Including Red Deer, Burnt Thicket Theatre in partnership with Raise Their Voice has presented She Has A Name in 13 cities and seven provinces across Canada.

Raise Their Voice uses story, song, theatre, film to bring awareness to the plight of vulnerable and exploited people.

Burnt Thicket Theatre is an emerging Alberta company striving to bringing meaningful subject matter to its audience through talented and committed artists. The bus will leave the Christian Reformed parking lot at 6:15 p.m.

For more information about attending the play via the bus, which will leave the Christian Reformed Church parking lot at 6:15 p.m. Oct. 2, contact Anna at 403-843-6523.