SHE HAS A NAME
She Has A Name bares chilling truths about human trafficking in sex trade
Five actors, including two from Vancouver, play dual roles in a gritty, fast-paced, suspense-filled drama at Vancouver Fringe, Sept 7 – 15.
She Has A Name, by award winning playwright Andrew Kooman, is a fast-moving, episodic drama about a Canadian lawyer (Jason) working undercover to expose a human trafficking ring based in Thailand. To win his case, Jason must convince his key witness, a young prostitute known only as Number 18, to risk her life and testify. In partnership with Raise Their Voice, Burnt Thicket Theatre is proud to present She Has A Namein thirteen cities and seven provinces across Canada, in Vancouver Sept. 7 – 15.
“This chilling story is haunted by four Voices, the spirits of four female victims who did not survive the journey of a sex slave,” says Director Stephen Waldschmidt. “These Voices obsess Jason’s dreams. They also consume the mind of Number 18. The play weaves together a gritty realism with a heightened spirit-realm or dream world that, when combined, puts the audience – ‘up close and personal’ with the shocking reality of human trafficking. If She Has a Name were made into a movie, it would be billed as a suspense thriller.”
Adds Waldschmidt, “I believe audiences will relate to and be deeply impacted by this play on two levels – one the visceral experience of the story’s emotional, roller coaster journey that will ‘get under their skin’ and motivate people to take action against human trafficking. The second is inspiration to keep on fighting the good fight – gained from the seemingly insurmountable challenges faced by both Jason and Number 18.”
Playwright Andrew Kooman comments, “The tragedy of Number 18's plight in She Has A Name highlights that 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.”
She Has A Name has five actors playing 10 roles. The doubling of roles helps connect the Bangkok Thailand setting with Canada and the reality that trafficking persons for sex slavery is taking place right here in Canada. The underlying story line is that every victim and every perpetrator connected in the human traffic web is a human being that could easily touch anyone of us.
“Number 18 is portrayed by Vancouver actor Evelyn Chew, who brings a spellbinding emotional presence and an innocence that will grip audiences’ hearts as she deals with the frightening terror of her predicament,” explains Waldschmidt. “Also doubling as Voice 1, Chew is a masterful actor with an open-hearted vulnerability and breathtaking strength of spirit.”
“Vancouver and Seattle-based actor Carl Kennedy, who received a Jessie Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Lead Role (Vancouver, 2011), plays Jason in the play. Kennedy provides a winsome dignity and ferocious passion, along with his astonishing stage presence,” says Waldschmidt. “He will galvanize audiences’ resolve to follow in Jason’s footsteps, even as he also depicts his dual role as a chilling, ruthless, gun toting Pimp (who ‘owns’ Number 18).”
“I’m absolutely thrilled to be working with Kennedy and Chew, both newcomers to Burnt Thicket Theatre, whose command of their craft and relationship on stage will electrify audiences.”
Calgary-based Alysa van Haastert plays the role of Ali, Jason’s wife who is at home in Canada with their two young daughters. “I’ve shared the stage with van Haastert several times and audiences can’t help feeling a heart-felt connection with the tremendous soul, allure and verve she brings to her role. Although separated from Ali by the Pacific Ocean, Jason draws strength from—and is challenged by—his wife and confidante via telephone and by video through Skype. She Has A Name audiences will be captivated by Kennedy and van Haastert’s mesmerizing chemistry in those scenes. Van Haastert also doubles as Voice 4.”
Glenda Warkentin, a Lethbridge native and seasoned performer, reprises her role as Jason’s legal supervisor, Marta. “Warkentin is an exceptionally versatile actor who brings her tenderness and honesty, along with her strength and commanding presence to She Has A Name. Though hardened by years of fighting injustice, Marta’s passion for justice inspires Jason to keep going and, when things go awry, she risks her own life for Number 18. Warkentin also doubles as Voice 3.”
Edmonton actor Sienna Howell-Holden returns from London England to reappear as Mamma, the callous ‘mamasan’ who manages the brothel. “Howell-Holden brings her powerful voice and massive spirit to the role. When Mamma and Marta go head-to-head over the fate of Number 18, sparks will fly! Howell-Holden’s soulful warmth will also shine as she plays Voice 2.”
Cast List: #18 and Voice 1 (Evelyn Chew), Jason and Pimp (Carl Kennedy), Ali and Voice 4 (Alysa Van Haastert), Marta and Voice 3 (Glenda Warkentin) and Mamma and Voice 2 (Sienna Howell-Holden).
Creative Team: Director & Set Design & Scenic Artist (Stephen Waldschmidt), Fight Director (Karl Sine), Choreographer (Deanne Bertsch) Costume Design and Head of Wardrobe (Jaylene Wiebe), Composer/Sound Design (Luke Ertman), Lighting Design (Anton de Groot), Dialect Coach (Nathan Schmidt), Tour Stage Manager (Brad G. Graham), Playwright (Andrew Kooman) Artistic Director (James Popoff), Producing Director (Alida Lowe).
About Raise Their Voice
With a heart for the oppressed and a mind committed to action, Raise Their Voice, uses story, song, theatre, film and practical acts of mercy to address the plight of vulnerable and exploited people and relieve suffering. Raise Their Voice is incorporated under the Alberta Societies Act. www.raisetheirvoice.com
About Burnt Thicket Theatre
Burnt Thicket Theatre is an emerging Alberta company committed to enliven [restore life to] audiences through original performance, via an ensemble of artists seeking to integrate spiritual and artistic practices in the creation of new theatre works. In partnership with Raise Their Voice, Burnt Thicket Theatre in 2011 produced the world premiere of She Has a Name that received critical acclaim with sold out audiences during its three-week run in Calgary and Red Deer. www.burntthicket.com
For more information about the She Has A Name 2012 Canadian Tour, including videos, visit: shehasaname.net