Posts Tagged ‘Stop The Traffik’

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 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: 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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