Students condemn sex trafficking in production of “She Has A Name”

Chanel Twyman, Contributing Writer

She Has A Nameis a theatre production by Andrew Kooman addressing the factual misfortunes about the world of sex trafficking. The play follows the story of an international lawyer who attempts to develop a case against a sex trafficking ring that targets young girls in Bangkok’s red-light district. As he tries to build this case, he is haunted with internal voices in addition to his natural instincts in response to being involved in this matter. The lawyer must face the harsh realities of this underground world, stretching from police involvement to his own vulnerabilities. As the play proceeds, he becomes attached to a young girl who gives him disclosed information until they are caught by the “female leader” of the brothel.

Inspired by a Thailand tragedy of 54 trafficking victims being found dead in a shipping container, Kooman uses the storyline to allow the audience to capture a glimpse of these horrific events that are closer to us than we may think.

Gwenn Gideon ’15 found inspiration in this production, and vowed to provide a special stage reading of She Has a Namefor her senior honors project. The reading took place on March 1 in Bucknell Hall. Gideon has also lead theatre workshops geared toward raising awareness about domestic and international sexual trafficking. She worked with a local organization, known as “Transitions,” to assist her with conveying these ideas, and presented a donation jar at the event to be given to this crisis center.

The play was created to raise awareness for this often unnoticed global issue. Although the production was placed in Bangkok, within the United States there have been 18,645 human trafficking cases reported since 2007. According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, in 2013, 4,884 human trafficking cases were reported, with 3,392 being sex trafficking and 126 cases originating in Pennsylvania. There is also a significant presence of sex trafficking on Route 15, right here in Lewisburg and Selinsgrove. The overwhelming number of statistics prove that this is a major problem within our country, and discussing it, creating advocacy groups, and finding solutions is needed to prevent its growth.

Gideon emphasized that she enjoys using theatre as a medium of communication and change.

In her director’s notes Gideon says “through this type of work, theatre becomes less about a performance and functions more as a tool accessible to all.” She also believes that “it can make people stop, think, and want to change.”

College campuses have the ability to not only play a part in advocating against sex trafficking, but can also help to end it. It was evident that her cast members carried that same passion about advocacy for this issue. During the post-show talk, they all expressed how hard it was for them to play these roles because the reality was so brutal. What helped them was that they knew they were acting as advocates for sex trafficking; they had a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves.

“For me participating in ‘She Has A Name’ was speaking for those who are voiceless, which is definitely an act of justice,” Andranae Nelson ’17, who played the role of Voice 1, said. Nelson also looked at herself as “… being empowered to inform the Bucknell community through the form of art.”

Gideon will continue her influence by holding another staged reading at Susquehanna University on March 22 at 6:30 p.m. in the Degenstein Center Theater.

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