Posts Tagged ‘Human Trafficking’

Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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November 16th 2013
The Calm before the Storm

In about a week, I will be heading down to Meiningen Germany to Das Meininger Theater to attend the fully-staged world premiere of Anya17 (and many subsequent performances over the coming months).

When you are in the midst of a long-term project, it can be all too easy to look forward with trepidation and be forced to accept the sudden realisation that you have “so far to go…”

Today (for a change) I decided to take the opposite view and “stopped on the mountainside” to look back and see just how far we had actually come.

From the genus of an idea, the amazing Anya17 team has:

1. Premiered concert performances with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Ensemble 10/10 and The Royal Northern College of Music.

2. Gained extensive coverage to raise awareness of Human Trafficking on the brilliant BBC and with many many others (as far afield as South Korea and Australia).

3. Premiered Anya17 in Romania and received an invitation to take the opera all over Romania by The Ministry of Internal Affairs (in conjunction with The UK-Romania Friendship Foundation and their wonderfully-successful International Human Trafficking Symposium).

4. Secured a USA premiere with Opera Parallele in San Francisco in 2014, and used the opportunity to engage a swathe of Human Rights groups and Media in America.

5. Won the “Best Film or Stage Production Dealing with Human Trafficking” Award at the Anti-Slavery Day Media Awards last year at The House of Commons, promoted by The Human Trafficking Foundation.

6. Gained the official endorsement of thirteen Anti-Trafficking NGOs, many of whom we hope will attend the German premiere.

7. A performance in Feb next year in Wales is currently awaiting confirmation, whilst other potential performances in the UK with the original Cast are at such an early stage that… let’s just wait and see…

Yes, we do have a long way to go.

Sometimes though it’s good to look back and gain confidence and inspiration for the future, from the successes of the past.

I haven’t met any of the Singers or Musicians who will be performing Anya17 in Germany. I haven’t even yet met the Director, the Conductor, the Costume Designer or any of the others.

I did though receive an email from one of the Singers, who is playing the part of “Elena” in Germany. I won’t relate the email because all these thoughts will be appearing on the blog soon.

All I can say is that “the passion lives on…”

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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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October 4th 2013
Details of Anya17 in Romania – October 17th 2013

Details of the imminent International Symposium on Human Trafficking in (Romania October 14th to 18th) and the Romanian premiere of Anya17

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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: 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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March 8th 2012
Anya17 Premieres!

Well, goodness me and where to begin? Stunning premiere performances all round at The Philharmonic Hall last night in Liverpool and it currently looks like we’re heading for a sell-out in Manchester tomorrow night.
There hasn’t really been any time at all yet to stop and reflect, but the congratulatory emails have been pouring in ever since ‘curtain down’, and I just hope that the Cast are aware of the immense contributions they have made. The Ensemble 10/10 were infallibly brilliant despite an almost impossibly tight rehearsal schedule, and the wonderful performance coaxed from them by Clark Rundell was a tribute both to his inspirational vision and to the nsemble 10/10’s unshakable, consummate professionalism.
We’ll hopefully get some posts soon from these terrific singers, but until then let me leave you with this; coverage from the brilliant BBC just prior to the Anya17 world premiere last night…

BBC TV Coverage on day of Anya17 Premiere

Ben Kaye, Librettist

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Author: Caroline Clegg - Director
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February 15th 2012
Anya17: Director Caroline Clegg’s invitation to listen to the survivors

I would firstly like to express my gratitude to the extraordinary young women that we met at the recent Charity visit and to the volunteers and all good men and women who continue to give not only their time and resources, but “a part of their hearts” to people who have suffered at the hands of traffickers, slave gang masters and, often times, their own family members.

I have been involved in creating theatre work on the issue of slavery – and that is what trafficking is – for five years now. Firstly in creating Slave – A Question of Freedom; secondly a new piece of drama on grooming, Takeaway Teenager (June 2012) and presently Anya17 and I can say that the reality still continues to shock me intensely. I am saddened daily at the slowness of change which results in more people like the women we met suffering.

Sometimes the sadness translates into feeling impotent, despondent and ineffective as an artist. I wonder if we really contribute to making a difference. We are simply translators. We make choices of how to present someone’s story and throughout the creative process we develop a narrative that we hope will provoke, relate and reveal, in this case the underground world of buying and selling girls as sex slaves.

Once we have a show we hope that the audience will bear witness, become reactive and perhaps demand that more be done to stop this trade in humans. But will they?

For some, the opera or play may stay in mind for as long as it takes to drink a gin and tonic at the bar. For others it will it be like reading the newspaper; a repulsive story for a few moments but once read it will be discarded because it is not an issue that affects them and there is the mortgage to be paid, the kids need new shoes and yes whilst it’s very sad, there is nothing we can do is there…. Is there?

But perhaps it could help people to listen and listen with hearing and understanding ears to their stories until we, governments and security forces can’t pretend to be deaf anymore?

I don’t believe that not listening because it is too upsetting is an option, because only in hearing will those who have been trafficked gain freedom and justice.

Imagine listening to a girl; someone’s daughter, someone’s mother, someone’s sister, telling you that they had met a man, fallen head over heels in love and followed her boyfriend or by now fiancé to a new place to make a life for themselves.

When they arrive at that place she is beaten into submission, half starved, drugged and locked in a room where up to thirty men have sex with her every day. There could be a girl like that living on your street.

There are thousands of girls (and boys) in the UK now in this situation and they need help. During the recent Charity visit I had the privilege to meet three incredible women who had escaped and survived similar terror. The effect of meeting them was not only deeply humbling but emotionally challenging and thank God, because it stoked and renewed my anger and determination to give voice to their testimony and celebrate not only their dignity and courage but their indomitable will to survive and to rebuild their lives. After five years of work in this area you would think that you would be immune, that you had heard every possible horror. But every girl or boy is an individual human being with equal rights as you and I and part of his or her life has been stolen and they deserve to be heard.

Thank you again to the Charity and especially thank you to the remarkable young women for allowing me to sit and bear witness to your stories, to share a cup of tea and cake with you and see you smile especially as you told us of being reunited with your children and families. But mostly, thank you for distressing and disturbing me and for giving me a chance to listen and react.

As I re-read the opera that night, tears streamed down my face as the girl’s stories became embedded in the notes on the page. The screams within the melody were their screams loud and clear and the silent bars of violence, rape, murder and degradation were the silenced voices of those still enslaved.

I am realistic enough to know that an opera will not stop the sex trade and it will not stop men wanting to go to a brothel. But I do know that if you watch Anya17 you will be changed and with change comes action, and with action those at this Charity and others around the world will have a voice.

As I said above, as artists we are simply translators of stories which we then present on stage to give their voice a platform on which to be heard.

Please come and listen and ensure that those who have escaped, the survivors, are not victims but victors. It is our duty to keep this issue on the front pages and in the forefront of the minds of politicians who have the power to make real change.

Thank you for reading.
Caroline Clegg

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Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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January 23rd 2012
Purple Teardrop Campaign supports Anya17

I am delighted to announce that the Purple Teardrop Campaign has joined Anya17 as an official supporter. As you can imagine we’re all very excited about their participation and wish them the warmest of welcomes. The Purple Teardrop Campaign has four main aims:

1. To raise awareness among the general public of the plight of women and children who are trafficked.

2. To try to suppress the demand for trafficked women by making men who use prostitutes aware that they could be contributing to this trade.

3. To promote the Crimestoppers number, 0800 555 111, so that members of the public can give confidential information on locations where they think trafficked women are being exploited.

4. To support the safe houses which provide holistic care for victims who have been freed from trafficking.

To find out more about the Purple Teardrop Campaign follow them on Twitter @TeardropPurple or visit http://www.purpleteardrop.org.uk 

 

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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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