; Fun! Fun! Vancouver!: She Has a Name

Monday, 10 September 2012

She Has a Name

Late Sunday night, I attended Andrew Kooman's She Has a Name, now on at the Firehall Arts Centre as part of the Vancouver International Fringe Festival. It was an intense production on human trafficking. Harrowing and emotionally draining, I could have used a bit more balance to help relieve the tension that built up but given the subject matter, that would be a hard task to accomplish.

Instead, we are presented with an important and powerful show that strives to bring awareness of human trafficking to audiences across Canada. By shedding light on the topic, hopefully it will drive people to want to get up and do something about it. At times earnest in its approach, the show does manage to touch upon all sorts of perspectives in this dark underbelly - from the victim to the people who are trying to help but whose hands are tied by laws and bureaucracy and corruption.

The story centers on a young man named Jason who has gone undercover to help gather evidence for a case against a human trafficker in Thailand. He meets Number Eighteen, a young girl forced into being a sex trade worker, and who just may be the key to blowing the case wide open. There is also a chanting Greek chorus who help give voice to unspoken emotions and events, which at first came off a tad annoying but blossomed into pure poetry by the end of it. The show runs for 90 minutes with no intermission.

The performances were all solid, but on an aesthetic level, I found there to be a lot of shouting. The standout for me was Sienna Howell-Holden, who played the role of "Mamma" - the middleperson between the victim and the victim's pimp. It is Mamma who runs the brothel and who keeps the girls in place, reporting any suspicious activity to the big boss. I found this character intriguing because it made me wonder, what drives this person to do what she does? Why would she let young girls be put into these situations of abuse and violence? Is it for the money? Was she once one of them? Does she have her own family to take care of and this is the only way to do so? Or is she just a flat out evil person? The commitment that Sienna puts into the role really made me see her as yes, a bad person, but at the same time, still a person...

She Has a Name runs for the remainder of the Fringe Festival at the Firehall Arts Centre (280 East Cordova Street) with the following showtimes:

Sep 10 - 5:30 PM
Sep 11 - 9:30 PM
Sep 13 - 7:30 PM
Sep 14 - 5:15 PM
Sep 15 - 9:30 PM

Visit the She Has a Name website for more information on the national Canadian tour as well as more information on what you can do to help join the fight against human trafficking.

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