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Author: Hayley Chappell - Online Marketer
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March 5th 2012
Win an Anya17 T-Shirt

It’s premiere week at Anya17 and while the cast and musicians have the final few rehearsals you could be in with a chance to win one of the fantastic Anya17 T-Shirts designed by Stu Jones.

To be in with a chance to win a T-Shirt all you need to do is answer this simple question:

Q: Who plays the lead role of Anya in the opera Anya17?

The answer can be found on the website at If you know (or find!) the answer, simply comment on this post with your answer. (All comments are approved before they appear on the blog so no comments relating to this post will be approved until after we have revealed the answer and announced a winner.)

Competition closes Saturday 10th March 2012.

Read Stu Jones’ original post revealing the truth behind the T-Shirt design.

Winners will have the choice between a T-Shirt with the full back design or with the front logo only.

We will also be running a Twitter only competition which we will announce details of later this week!

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Author: Hayley Chappell - Online Marketer

February 10th 2012
Anya17: Meeting trafficking victims – a cast member’s reflections

The cast of Anya17 recently visited a UK charity to meet women rescued from the throes of trafficking who are now trying to claim back their lives. After the visit, Amy Webber (who plays Elena in Anya17) shared her thoughts on the day.

“Following our recent Cast visit to meet survivors of Human Trafficking, I just wanted to relate my experiences and express my thanks to both the Charity involved and to the amazing survivors in their care for this extraordinary privilege in the research for my role.

After seeing the film “Sex Traffic”, visiting the exhibition at the London museum about slavery and reading books that the Director Caroline had given me, I felt that I had gained a little insight into this topic. Absorbing this somewhat remote information, and seeing the results of it for myself on real lives first-hand however, was very, very different. My eyes were about to be well and truly opened.

When we first walked into the room I had to hold back tears just on seeing the faces of the women. Feeling that tears would be unhelpful in such an emotionally-charged atmosphere, I managed to compose myself enough to talk with them about the effects of their experiences, and how the remarkable Charity is helping them to start rebuilding their lives in the UK or to provide them with the support and opportunity to get home to their loved ones.

One of the survivors was excited to be returning to her home country soon because she had been forced to leave behind children. When she told us (with signs and basic English) the ages and the names of her children, the smile on her face made me well up again, but this time from happiness. How wonderful it was that the thoughts of her children, her love and her longing gave her the hope to keep going through what must have been hell on earth. It demonstrated to me a glimpse of the extremes of humanity; how family and love can be the best things in the world, how strong love really is, but how some wilfully destroy other people’s lives purely in the pursuit of cold cash. Is it hate, or disrespect, or just greed? I don’t know how I could possibly describe these people with just one word.

The Charity is absolutely fantastic. Their volunteers love all these women like their own children or sisters, and in return the victims love them back just as much. The love the volunteers give helps to bring the survivors out of their unfathomably dark, nightmarish existence and starts to engender some trust for humankind. If it wasn’t for these volunteers it is so clear that so many more women would just end their lives. The torturous effect of Trafficking on the souls of these women is all too apparent. After rescue some cannot even bring themselves to speak for weeks or even months. Reminiscent of Holocaust survivors hoarding food for decades after their deliverance, some can never let go of their passports again for fear that once more they will be taken from them, dooming them to be stranded in the UK forever, at the ‘mercy’ of their former Traffickers. A fate with a sure and certain end.

So many trafficking victims have suicidal thoughts that sadly, but inevitably, without the support of wonderful Charities such as this, many do attempt to take their own lives. I find it so wretched that the rest of their lives are ruined (or at the very least, made almost unbearably tortured) by what others have inflicted upon them. The Charity, though, helps them to find a safe place in which to live, takes them to the shops, enables them to live on their own and eventually to just smile, which must surely be the greatest gift of all. They are the bravest women in the world.

Writing each and every paragraph of this has made me cry. I feel so saddened by everything I have witnessed. Having become more knowledgeable and therefore inevitably passionate about this subject, I find it awful that so little is known about it by the public, and as a result so little of this vile ‘Trade’ is reported. It really is the lowest point of humanity. Whilst the Arab Spring has rightly elicited so much world-wide media attention, the fact that England can still have slaves would shock so many of the population who do not know anything about this secret world. I have learned that not only is the UK a ‘final destination’ for many of these victims without a voice, but also that our own children and young women are being trafficked within the country itself – a fact which must surely shock even the most UK-centric members of the public.

I am so happy and feel proud to be involved in this production. It is not just ‘Art for Art’s sake’; I really feel like this could help to facilitate change by raising awareness of the issues and bringing real stories into the public eye. My own character, Elena (again based on a true story) is that of a young woman my own age who, once trafficked, is abused and beaten so badly that she is blinded, but is still forced to continue having sex with clients for so many years in perpetual darkness that she believes death can be the only true escape. Let’s not condemn the public, and therefore the victims to this same darkness. Shining a light on this ‘Trade’ and raising awareness is the only way that things can begin to change.

Anya17 is not just an opera. It’s a campaign.

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Author: Hayley Chappell - Online Marketer
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December 2nd 2011
Anya17: The Cast

Following the recent auditions for Anya 17 we are pleased to announce the following cast and production team.

Anya                                Andrea Tweedale
Mila                                  Joanne Holton
Natalia/Carole               Lucy Baines
Elena                               Amy Webber
Gabriel/Uri                     Sean Boyes
Viktor                             Thomas Hopkinson

Conductor: Clark Rundell
Director: Caroline Clegg

Première performance in Liverpool on Wednesday 7 March 2012. Further performance at RNCM in Manchester on Friday 9 March 2012.

The audition panel wish to congratulate all who auditioned for the high standard of preparation and presentation.

If you would like more information about the roles in Anya 17, visit our cast page.

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Author: Hayley Chappell - Online Marketer
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October 18th 2011
Anti-Slavery Day: Writing for Justice

It’s all go in the Anya17 camp this week (Today is Anti-Slavery Day, we’re nominated for our first ever award from the Human Trafficking Foundation, Ben’s off to Number 10 and our brilliant T-Shirts have just launched). As the brand new online media manager, there’s nothing quite like being thrown in at the deep end!

I’m Hayley and barely two weeks ago I picked up the phone and spoke to Anna for the first time about the possibility of volunteering for Anya17 as their online media manager. A few days later and I found myself on the end of a phone to Ben, discussing ideas for this blog and our Twitter feed – and I hadn’t even agreed to volunteer at that point!

A country-loving southern living up in the industrial north of England, I found out about Anya17 through Sheffield based charity City Hearts, who work with victims of human trafficking to rehabilitate them and, where possible, reunite them with their families in their home countries. Through City Hearts, I’ve met women who have been trafficked to the UK to work in the sex industry. The thing that struck me most about them was this; they could be anyone. They could be me. They could be you. They have mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, friends and boyfriends. They are girls who, at one time or another, found themselves in what ended up being the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people. (At this point I feel I should interject that both men and women can be victims of trafficking – the statistics are quite shocking – but the focus of Anya17 is that of the stories of the women trafficked for sex).

Speaking to Ben over the phone I could tell he was hugely passionate about giving these faceless, voiceless young women a platform to make their voice and their stories heard. What comes across – and I’m sure it’s more obvious in person – is his belief that even doing something, no matter how small, can make a difference.  And that’s ultimately why I agreed to be Anya17’s online media manager. Using my ability to blog, my unhealthy addiction to social media, and my journalist head to help raise a voice for these people and in some way, make a difference.

Over the next few months I hope we’ll build a large online following both interested in the opera and in raising awareness and fighting against this incredible injustice. I’m excited to see a more “traditional” art form, the opera, catapult a serious modern-day world issue into the public psyche and to the fore of the political arena.

Anya17, in my mind, is a story with many sides, told by many people. And this blog is where you’ll see them unfold.

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