While the sex industry is one of the most financially profitable in the world, few are speaking out about its dark underbelly that is until now. In the play, “Trafficked” the story of sex slavery and child exploitation is explored through the experiences of fifteen young women representing various parts of the world. The play is written entirely by members of Project Girl Performance Collective, which is composed of young women from at-risk neighborhoods between the ages of 14-21.
Before the play begins one is immediately made aware that they are about to witness fearless political theater as signs line up the aisle floors with unsettling facts regarding the number of children trafficked into the sex industry. Those statistics come to sharp life in the opening scene. All fifteen young women are placed on the stage delivering interconnected monologues that finds each character identifying themselves as exploited victims. Here the use of group interaction, mirrors, media, lighting and staging effectively evoke the intensity of the play’s topic.
Standout performances include Dominique Fishback (21 years-old), whose character Seleste Crawford struggles with accepting her own sexuality, remaining committed to rehabilitation and trying to rescue her love interest, Holly June from a life of exploitation. Sophie Walker (15 years-old) plays Holly and fully embodies the vulnerable southern belle persona. Equally impressive is Gerogie Exinord (15 years-old) as Marie-Antwan Calixe, whose character as a quiet and fearful young Haitian girl trapped in the sex industry reveals the mental chains placed on these young women.
In between the group scenes the play alternates back and forth between its subplot of Seleste trying desperately to rescue Holly from her abusive pimp. Other scenes involve two youth in a jail cell struggling to keep their faith for a better day and a TV interview that is just as exploitative as the pimps in the industry, which challenges the media’s treatment of sex slavery.
However the play is strongest in its moments where all young women are on the stage together and incorporate elements of various media. When the cast delivers its monologues in unison they create a global voice and face for the issue of trafficking. In these moments the issue becomes less foreign and one that we can immediately recognize outside our own front door. To that end, “Trafficked,” more than meets its goal of engaging audiences in a challenging topic that deserves a bigger stage.
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