The upcoming production of “Body and Sold” which hopes to raise awareness of human trafficking by featuring true stories of victims held its auditions last Saturday in the GCC auditorium.
The play is a devised documentary, written by Deborah Lake Fortson, which is based on the real life stories of eight American teenagers who left home for various reasons and were lured into the world of trafficking.
This production has been two years in the works for the organizers of the project Jill Lewis, who works in instructional services, and Sandy Shultz.
Lewis and Shultz are both members of the Soroptimist International of Glendale, an organization that works to empower women both in local communities and throughout the world.
Two years ago Shultz attended an annual Soroptimist conference in Philadelphia at which the play was featured. Shultz was so moved by it she wanted to bring it to Glendale. Even though they had no experience in putting on a production, Shultz and Lewis decided to pursue their goal of seeing this play on a Glendale stage.
“We want to spread the news, let people know about trafficking,” said Lewis. “People don’t think it happens here, that it only happens in other countries. But 10,000 women and children are being held against their will in Los Angeles. Our goal is to raise awareness in the community. It’s ugly and you may not want to think about it, but it’s true.”
This play won’t be a feel good story. Characters from all different walks of life will be portrayed through staged readings. There will be a limited set. The play will rely heavily on actors’ emotions and also technical aspects such as lighting and music. Lewis hopes to have a single saxophone player, which she is trying to get from the college’s jazz department.
The play will tell the story of how these teenagers were lured into the world of trafficking through promises of love and attention or were drugged and kidnapped.
“The play presents the voice of these survivors as they talk about violence and ending up in a life of prostitution which they never bargained for. Their stories tell of their escape and ongoing struggle to survive,” said Lewis.
“The fact that it’s true stories is the most amazing part and we have to get their stories out,” said audition hopeful Elin Haghnazarian.
The single performance will be on June 19 at 7 p.m. in the GCC auditorium.
“It’s a good idea that we’re raising awareness,” said Jemina Santiago, who also auditioned. “Plays are usually for entertainment, but this one is so much more.”
The play will be directed by Jim Holmes of the theater department at Loyola Marymount University (LMU). Those who showed up or the auditions included GCC students and employees, Glendale High School drama students, as well as LMU and USC students.
“It’s a pretty intense play,” said stage manager and assistant director Crystal Magallanes “It’s great to open discussion [about trafficking] and about what these people went through. It’s a very sad story, that’s also very true.”
The play will be followed by an interactive panel discussion. Proceeds from the play will go to Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking and local domestic shelters.
For more information about Soroptomist International and tickets for “Body and Sold” visit http://www.soroptimistglendale.org.