Posts Tagged ‘contemporary opera’

Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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September 19th 2012
Anya17 shortlisted for the Anti Slavery Day Awards 2012

I couldn’t be more delighted to let you know that Anya17 has been shortlisted for the 2012 Anti Slavery Day Awards to be held at The Houses of Parliament on October 17th 2012.

The Awards, created by The Human Trafficking Foundation and backed by Officers of The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking, were set up to recognise those who have contributed most to raise public awareness of Human Trafficking.

Anya17 is amongst some very stiff competition, which in other Awards ceremonies might not be such good news. Since Anya17 however was written purely to raise awareness of Human Trafficking, this is a win-win situation for the cause, and to have been shortlisted is a great honour.

I can’t thank everyone for this – there are so many people who have worked so hard and for so long to bring Anya17 to life that a list of names (like those of the victims) would be just meaningless. Let me just say then that “you know who you are” and that without even one of your contributions, the project would have been meaningless. Thank you so much.

So, what about the future? It seems we’re off to Romania in 2013 to help raise awareness in a country which is the overwhelmingly recognised ‘starting point’ for the majority of Trafficking victims to the UK. I really hope we can bash some political heads there and make a difference. Germany is also looking promising. We are currently fielding enquiries from the USA and have recently been featured in magazines from such far flung corners of the world as South Korea. Only time will tell.

Until next time – Ben.

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Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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February 21st 2012
Lights, Camera… Action! Tony Lloyd MP speaks about the Sex Trafficking awareness Opera Anya17

As Anya17’s Librettist I was naturally very excited at the prospect of attending an Ensemble rehearsal at the RNCM in Manchester, where I would hear much of the music for the very first time.

It’s an odd sensation too; no matter how many times I start out to write the words for a piece, for some strange reason I can never believe that it’s really happening until I walk through the door to find myself seemingly surprised to hear the Cast and Musicians in full flood.

Friday March 7th will be a very special evening therefore, and not even a five hour drive Northwards through hundreds of miles of roadworks on the M5 and M6 could possibly dull my anticipation for the Liverpool premiere.

As I entered the rehearsal room a few days ago in Manchester I thought that I must have been dreaming. The music was magnificent and the Cast’s performances ranged from the chilling to the sublime. It was everything I could have hoped.

Perfect then that the rehearsal was attended not only by representatives from Anti-Slavery International and ACT Leeds (Stop The Traffik), but also by Tony Lloyd MP, who supporting the project from its inception dropped in to talk to the Cast. Tony also chatted to me during an interview describing his feelings on attending the rehearsal and also spoke about the importance of Anya17 in raising awareness of Sex Trafficking.

To share my incredible evening then, check out Tony’s interview filmed by James Shilton. Further photos and video of the rehearsal itself will be posted soon by James. Until then!

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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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December 6th 2011
Anya17: Exclusive behind the scenes footage

The recent Anya17 auditions at the RNCM were universally of such a high standard that it made the selection process almost impossible. To give you a taste of the range of impressive talent at the RNCM, I thought it worth posting some ‘behind the scenes’ un-edited Documentary footage.

This clip (courtesy of Shilton Photo Film) features one audition for the role of Natalia, whose highly unusual and disturbing aria, almost a ‘Broadway parody’ juxtaposes the contemporary / classical nature of the rest of the Opera. The astoundingly talented Frances Marshfield gave an unforgettable performance which left the panel almost lost for words.

This melodic, upbeat composition is also in shocking contrast with its lyrical content, which relates Natalia’s cruel introduction to the world of  sexual exploitation.

Please note that this performance contains subject matter which some viewers may find disturbing.

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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.

THE CAST
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: 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: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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November 24th 2011
Anya17: First BBC TV Coverage

Simon Clemison: BBC News

Adam Gorb and I are much indebted to the brilliant BBC who have not only covered our previous collaborations but have already leant their support to Anya17 at the earliest possible stage. In a clear commitment to raise public awareness of the issues of Human Trafficking, here is the first BBC News Report which was aired just days ago across three BBC southern TV regions.

Special thanks must go to Simon Clemison (pictured) at the BBC, whose dogged determination

and belief in the project resulted not only  in the News article already mentioned, but also a second BBC TV report on Trafficking in the South West (to be posted shortly), and an in-depth documentary to be aired next year.

Thank you brilliant BBC!

Ben



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Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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November 4th 2011
Anya17 Auditions: It’s tough being an X Factor judge

Hopeful auditionee for the role of Natalia

Being an X Factor judge isn’t as easy as it seems! The harsh reality of picking and choosing between talented performers became all too clear as I sat, somewhat the judging novice, on the panel at Monday night’s Anya17 auditions at the RNCM in Manchester. Whilst neither spray tans nor capped teeth were in evidence amongst the august panel, the many talented performers gave it their all for nearly four hours under the unforgiving gaze of the camera and the expert judges.

Completing the panel and amply compensating for my complete lack of judging experience were Anya17’s Composer Adam Gorb, Clark Rundell and Stephan Janski.

Stephan’s friendly and encouraging style belied his extensive experience and much-praised work with Glyndebourne Festival and Touring Opera, ENO, Scottish Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Ryedale Festival and many others. Now Head of RNCM Opera (and a fantastic Librettist to boot), Stephan inspired some wonderful performances on the night.

Surely winning the prize for the longest title however, Clark Rundell, (Director of Contemporary Music and Head of Conducting at the RNCM, and Artistic Director of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic’s new music group, Ensemble 10/10), was as knowledgeable as he was incisive. A good thing too, as attempting to choose between the many extraordinary and well-prepared performances would have left me at a complete loss!

It's tough being a X Factor judge - Ben Kaye - Stephan Janski - Adam Gorb - Clark Rundell

Decisions had to be made however, and we will announce the cast line-up very shortly! (So make sure you’re checking back here and on our Facebook page and Twitter feed for all the latest developments.)

Monday also marked the start of filming for the Anya17 Documentary. James from Shilton Photo Film was kept busy for most of the day nimbly chasing light, angles and a variety of interviewees across the vast, labyrinthine landscape of the RNCM whilst burdened with a mountain of gear that would have soon had me screaming for the nearest Sherpa! Thank you also to Tina and Lara from City Hearts for taking part and also to Hope for Justice for finding the time to be with us.

That’s about all for now. In my next blog I will be introducing the talented singers who will become the cast of Anya17, and, if there’s space, I also hope to share my experiences at Unchosen’s latest screening at the LSE in London…

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Author: Stu Jones - Graphic Designer
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October 16th 2011
Anya17 Artwork

Hi Everyone, I’m Stu and I’m responsible for creating the artwork for the Anya17 project.

Following on from the recent t-shirt launch I was going to start by telling the story behind the artwork, and follow it with an explanation of the more cryptic parts of the text on the reverse of the t-shirt.

However, before I do that I’d like to give a bit of background on my involvement in the project and the development of the visual side of things so far.

From the first time I spoke to Ben on the phone it was immediately apparent that he had a real passion for both the subject and the project. He talked at great length not only about the project but about the whole thing – the girls, the traffickers, the statistics and the horrendous reality of the situation for all those tricked into that life. All this was punctuated by some truly disturbing stories he had come across over the course of his research. By the end of the call I knew that I had to be involved. It was a combination of his passion, the great cause and his genuine trust and openness meaning I could really go to town with the artwork.

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Author: Anna Celeste Watson - Web Designer
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October 14th 2011
Design for Change

I suppose its about time I introduced myself properly! I’m Anna, the Web Designer who will be creating the website to promote the amazing project that is Anya17. I am very proud to be working with my Partner Illustrator Stu Jones who created the stunningly beautiful yet provocative and disturbing logo!

Ben Kaye first rang me back in July about creating a logo, saying he had been recommended to me by someone I had never heard of and he then googled me by general location. To this day I am not sure whether it was me he was even supposed to call or if he got the wrong company, but either way I’m pretty sure it was fate! I hope that he certainly came to the right person as I have specifically been looking to get involved with more ethical and charity related web design projects, after all it must be every designers dream to do work for ‘good causes’ for the greater good of others.

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