Posts Tagged ‘Anti-Slavery International’

Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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October 22nd 2013
Amy Webber’s thoughts on the Romanian premiere of Anya17

Performing Anya 17 in a country where more women and children are trafficked for sex slavery than any other Eastern European country was extremely poignant.

For me, it brought an even deeper level of emotional engagement and the back story of my character became even more detailed. Seeing all the delegates from the Anti Human Trafficking conference and members of numerous trafficking charities in the audience also made the story become deeper. Everyone in that Philharmonic Hall was fighting against the same thing – human trafficking and slavery. This made the whole experience very powerful and the opera more relevant than ever before.

I always cry at the end of my aria in Anya 17 and also at the end of the opera, and this time, I cried even more. When the audience gave a standing ovation and the whole cast, crew and orchestra were taking bows on stage, the applause was saying more than just “what a great performance” but also “let us all continue the fight”. What more thrill could you want as a performer than being involved in something that is an art AND a campaign for change?

Of course, teaming up with a Romanian conductor, orchestra and half a Romanian cast also made the experience more interesting. Their rehearsal techniques and structure is different. And their way of approaching and learning contemporary music is also very different. They were all extremely friendly and really welcomed us to their country and culture.

Overall, it was a fantastic experience for all involved and we really hope we can continue to perform it all over the UK and the world.

Amy Webber plays the part of Elena

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Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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October 14th 2013
Three Days to Anya17 in Romania…

Timisoara

Timisoara

With just three days to go now before the Romanian premiere of Anya17 in Timisoara on the eve of Anti-Slavery Day, I am delighted to hear that rehearsals are going very well and that the Director (Caroline Clegg), the Cast and Musicians are all in good spirits.

Whilst I would very much like to be with the Composer Adam Gorb and with you all in Romania, there is much here left to be done, evidenced by this new Guardian report on Human Trafficking going on under our very noses in the UK today.

Good luck (Toi Toi Toi) to all the Anya17 Team in Romania!

 

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Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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March 11th 2013
Fully Staged World Premiere for Anya17!

Kammerspiele des Meininger Theater

I am delighted to announce that Anya17’s fully-staged World Premiere has been confirmed for this November in Germany!

Anya17 will be performed amidst the stunning landscape of Thuringia at Kammerspiele des Meininger Theater in Meiningen with a Cast from Theater Meiningen. The run will start on November 28th 2013 and finish on February 8th 2014.

The Meiningen Court Orchestra is one of the oldest and most tradition rich orchestras in Europe. Founded in 1690 by Duke Bernhard I, this elite 70-strong Orchestra has attracted Composers such as Johannes Brahms and Musical Direction from such luminaries as Hans von Bülow, Max Reger and Richard Strauss. The visionary Philippe Bach has been the Music Director since 2010.

The confirmed dates so far are:
Nov 28th 2013, Dec 8th 2013, Dec 14th 2013, Jan 10th 2014, Feb 8th 2014.

I need not say how excited we all are to hear the news of this run, and we hope to bring you news of performances in other countries soon!

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Author: Caroline Clegg - Director
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December 19th 2011
Anya17 Director & Cast: First Read-Through

Anya17’s award-winning Director Caroline Clegg explains her ethos of using the Arts to raise awareness of modern day slavery and the victims of sex trafficking, and why she has chosen to be involved with the opera…

On Monday December 12th I had my first read-through with the cast of Anya17.  Although Anya17 is an opera, it is useful to speak the libretto as text at this stage prior to the singers learning the notes. I feel privileged to be working on this important project and would like to invite every person who reads this blog not only to come to see the performance, but also to join Anti-Slavery International, for only with action will we end slavery.

For the past five years, and intensively for the last two and a half, I have been immersed in the issue of slavery with particular reference to Mende Nazer.  I read her book, Slave six years ago and adapted it into the award winning play Slave – A Question of Freedom with my company Feelgood which has just finished its second tour.  It is the true story of her abduction, rape and slavery in Sudan and the UK.  She was one of the lucky ones and escaped in 2000.  Now she uses her voice to help those who remain voiceless namely the 27 million nameless in slavery today who cannot speak out.

Working on the play has taught me a myriad of things, the most important being that we as artists and story tellers have a paramount responsibility to be strong advocates for the victims and to represent their stories authentically.  Enslavement is the cruelest and most inhuman act one human being can perpetrate on another and the very fact that in the 21st century it is as prevalent today as it was 200 years ago is abhorrent.  In Anya17 we will tell the story honestly, without compromise or neglect for the truth and we invite you all to come and watch, particularly if you are a man.  Let’s not shirk this issue.  Slavery today is predominantly perpetrated by males, particularly in sexual slavery.  And yes, let’s use the word slavery.  Trafficking is just a means of transportation.  People are being bought and sold into slavery.  What else do you call it if someone is forced to work 7 days a weeks, 18 hours a day without pay and they are locked in a house without any means to escape or communicate with the outside world?  People are sold to become domestic slaves in someone’s house, or as part of an unpaid gang to work on building sites, in catering outlets making sandwiches for supermarkets or as drug mules or commonly as prostitutes servicing up to 30 men a day.  Right now there could be someone in your street or town who is enslaved and you would know nothing about it.

A modern slave is de-humanised, brainwashed into non action, because she has been drugged and terrorised into thinking that if she tries to escape not only will she/he be killed but his/her captors will also find their family and kill them too.  Often the enslaved person forced into prostitution is simply known by a number  – hence Anya17 or in Mende’s case ‘abda’ or ‘yebit’ meaning slave and person worthy of no name.  Imagine if your son or daughter, your mum or your sister, being groomed and seduced to go to London for a ‘job’ and you never saw them again!”

Our generation is charged with ending slavery.  William Wilberforce spent 36 years in getting parliament to make it illegal now we have to stop it all together.  The Victorians stamped out a visual transatlantic slave trade; now it is up to us to eradicate the secret and dangerous underground trade in people.

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Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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November 30th 2011
Anya17: Caroline Clegg to direct Anya17

Caroline Clegg to direct Anya17

I am absolutely delighted to announce that the Director of the highly successful play ‘Slave – A Question of Freedom’ is now to direct Anya17.

Caroline Clegg is an Actor, Freelance Director and Artistic Director of Feelgood Theatre Productions

Caroline’s recent adaptation of Mende Nazer’s autobiography and subsequent direction of the resulting play, ‘Slave…’ won the Pete Postlethwaite Award for Best New Play in 2011 following its world premiere at The Lowry in November 2010. Subsequently it was performed in the House of Lords and transferred to the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, the Unity Theatre Liverpool and International Slavery Museum and the Guildhall in Derby. Plans for 2012/13 include performing at the UN and in the USA.

With the Play lauded by both public and critics alike, Caroline is looking forward to the new challenge of directing Anya17:

“I am delighted to be working on Anya17 to highlight the abhorrent crime of trafficking women into sexual slavery. My journey on Slave – A Question of Freedom led me to some very dark places and I experienced audiences identifying with the true horror of slavery in the 21st century through bearing witness to the testimony of one person’s story.

The transformative effect and power of live theatre and music can change hearts and minds and I have been privileged to see that power in action. I feel honoured to be able to continue to use my craft as a story teller on Anya17 and most importantly to give voice to the voiceless.

There are 27 million slaves alive today, more than were stolen from Africa in four centuries of the transatlantic slave trade. Today, men, women and children are being trafficked all over the world by gangs in highly organised illegal, dangerous and secretive operations. We have the capacity to end trafficking and slavery in our lifetime and fight for a world without human bondage, a world where vulnerable people are not bought and sold. Together, we can and must take action; we have no excuse to turn away.”

We are all very excited to have such an experienced and well-respected Director on board, particularly one already so immersed in the subject matter and dedicated to using the Arts to bring the crime of modern day Slavery into the public eye.

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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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Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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October 6th 2011
Invitation to No. 10 Downing Street

With the various musical collaborations I have been involved with over the past few years, some moments really stick in my mind. Hearing my words set to music for the very first time was a big one. JAM made it all come true for me at Southwark Cathedral with Paul Patterson’s ‘The Fifth Continent’ and I will never forget that first opportunity, nor that evening. JAM has a superb run of concerts touring Scotland this month by the way, so do visit http://www.jamconcert.org to find out more.

I have to admit (with a great sense of shame) that other highlights include the first BBC broadcasts and even being asked for my autograph for the first time. Very vain I know – but not easily forgotten – nor ever repeated! Better by far were the hugs I received from bereaved families at the ‘Eternal Voices’ concert last year for the fallen in Afghanistan, and hearing ‘Thoughts Scribbled on a Blank Wall’ at Westminster (again through JAM) was a pretty humbling experience.

Official praise is great too; perhaps the curse of writers everywhere. Two days ago an envelope landed on my doormat. It was an invitation to meet the Prime Minister at No. 10 Downing Street later this month in recognition of all that Adam Gorb, myself and the volunteers have done to bring this project to fruition.

With a budget of £0.00 and having to search for loose change between the sofa cushions just to travel to meetings, do the research etc. I may even have to shave for this one…

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Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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October 2nd 2011
Anya17 Nominated for Award!

It was a huge surprise when I heard that ‘Anya17’ has already been nominated for an award!

Despite the fact that the premiere of Anya17 is not until March 7th next year, the Libretto for the Opera has been circulating amongst the Charity community in the UK and abroad, and the result seems to have been a nomination for a HTF Media award at The House of Lords in October!

Let’s not get too excited here, because not only is there ‘many a slip twixt cup and lip’ but also some technicality over dates may make us ineligible both for the Awards for this year, and unfortunately for 2012, but the nomination itself is a great emotional boost to all of us who have worked so hard and for so long on this project – some since 2009. Without Adam Gorb, the RNCM, The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Liverpool Hope University, Anna, Stu, Lauren, the UN, the supporting Charities, MPs, MEPs and the BBC, what we may have had here could have just have been a still-born dream.

Before I go into full ‘Awards Ceremony Mode’ therefore and start thanking my Agent (who doesn’t exist), my Mother (who definitely does) and my Deity (the Jury’s still out on that one), I would sincerely like to thank all of you for nurturing some nebulous genus of an idea and helped the project to get this far.

Surely the plaudits though must go to my hairdresser…

Well done everyone!

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Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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September 25th 2011
Second Documentary Confirmed

Directly inspired by the Anya17 project, a recent call from the BBC confirmed that they have decided to start filming a short Documentary on Human Trafficking in the UK.

Spearheaded by the much-respected Simon Clemison, the Documentary will form part of the BBC’s ‘Inside Out’ series, and although predominately focussing on the South West (where I’m based) it is hoped that the magnitude of the subject will ensure BBC broadcasts in many other regions.

I am absolutely delighted that Anya17 has stimulated this interest, and despite the fact that ‘Anya’ is unlikely to feature much in the film, Anya’s true purpose will be well served.

Many thanks to Simon and all at the Beeb for their continued support!

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