She Has A Name, a play written by Andrew Kooman, has shocked and wowed theatregoers who were fortunate enough to attend the performance. It’s a haunting story about the underbelly of Bangkok where girls are commodities to rich men.
“I think there is something about engaging the heart, the emotions and coming from the side that awakens our inherent capacity as human beings to have compassion, to care, to be motivated, to be compelled to do something about it,” said Kooman, who is also a member of Raise Their Voice.
The play follows Number 18, Denise Wong, a 15-year-old prostitute who has been forced into working in a brothel, and Canadian lawyer Jason, played by Aaron Krogman. Jason is building a case against a ring of brothels trafficking young girls in Bangkok, and Number 18 must risk her life to testify for him.
“She Has A Name is a story that still haunts me today,” says Director Stephen Waldschmidt in a press release.
“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.”
Stephanie Loewen works in the social system and also had an opportunity to attend the performance. She has spent a lot of time in Asia, and has been working locally off and on with human trafficking and sexual exploitation for the past seven years.
“Having had both of those experiences, abroad and also working on it here, it’s so spot on,” said Loewen about the performance.
“I really just felt he captured the feelings and the reality of what it’s like.”
She said there was a line in the play that impacted her the most. It is when Jason stated ‘Once you receive the scar, it’s the scar that never goes away’ in relation to his experience in working with Number 18. Loewen said she has not delved into her work to the extent that Jason did in the play but it still hit a familiar note with her.
“That’s very true, there’s something that happens to you and your perspective on life and how you see things that really changes when you start to kind of dive deeper into some of the more social injustices,” said Loewen.
“Especially against woman and children and the gender based issues.”
On February 26 there was a panel discussion following the 2 p.m. matinee.
“Definitely we have trafficking for sexual exploitation here in Alberta,” said Lara Quarterman, who serves as the director of the Alberta Coalition on Human Trafficking, ACT, in Calgary. She said one of the other things the play didn’t touch on is that there is a significant amount of labour exploitation as well.
“That’s probably something that most Canadians don’t realize. We have more trafficking domestically in Canada which is pretty par for the course,” said Quarterman.
“You see this all over the world and Canada is not immune. We have more Canadians trafficking Canadians in Canada, than internationally.”
Actors often state that a performance must portray a message in a way that pulls at the heartstrings of viewers while leaving them with something to think about.
“Kind of in my guts I know that just by coming creatively from the side that you can kind of nurture a response in people, cultivate the compassion in the human heart and it’s the first step in addressing an issue that’s this big,” said Kooman.
The performance sold out quickly and as of press time no new dates had been announced. To find out more about human trafficking and how you can help stop it go, to www.raisetheirvoice.com.