The 5th Wall has been working on a new collaboration with ArtSpeak- an artist collective organization on the North Shore that uses the mediums of art for social change. We are partnering up with ArtSpeak and several other artist entities to create a fundraising event in December to raise money and awareness for women escaping human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
For the past several years ArtSpeak has held an interdisciplinary art event to raise money for Amirah: an organization based in Boston and the North Shore- but the artistic disciplines of the events have been mostly fine art and music…until now. A board member and close friend of ours approached us about working on bringing a theatrical element to this year’s event, and we said yes immediately.
Over the past couple of months we’ve been emailing and meeting with ArtSpeak and the Executive Director of Amirah to discuss the goals of this event, and how an immersive theatre portion will fit into the evening. The outcome so far has been breathtaking. We are so in love with this project! It is a hefty task to put into action the stories of these survivors. It is a delicate and important task, and one we do not take lightly. We hope to offer an experience that is true to and respectful of these women’s stories while also keeping in mind our audience and the goals of the piece. There is a very fine line between the harsh difficult truths and sentimentality- something we are trying very hard to avoid. We do not need to manipulate anyone’s emotions; these stories and this reality speaks for itself, and we aim to give it a voice to speak through the use of immersive and physical theatre.
One of the main goals of the project this year is to debunk some myths about human trafficking, and here are the three main ones we are focusing on:
1) Human trafficking happens other places. It doesn’t. It is happening in Boston. It is happening on the North Shore.
2) A certain type of person gets caught up into this narrative. There is no “type” of person, there is no “type” of woman. There are certain factors that make a girl or woman more vulnerable- for example: abuse in the home, a failing in the foster system, runaways, drug use, etc. and usually there are more than one of these vulnerabilities going on at once. But there is no ethnicity or socioeconomic status that is exempt.
3) Once someone escapes from exploitation, there’s a pop of champagne and they live happily ever after. The closer reality is that the real work begins when a woman chooses to break free from the cyclic nature of these horrific stories of abuse. They have to make that decision; no amount of police raids will forcibly keep a woman from falling back into the cycle. And when a woman chooses to leave, then real work begins. That’s where Amirah comes in. The healing and holistic care that is needed to recover is monumental. And the reality is: many women do not make it to this step.
We feel incredibly honored to have the responsibility of sharing these stories through an immersive work of theatre. It is an honor and a challenge to be honest, transparent, respectful and true for these women and the so many more who have not yet broken free.
We will have more updates as the show develops and starts to really take shape- but we wanted to give you a taste of what’s been bubbling beneath the seemingly quite surface of The 5th Wall.
Thanks and see you soon! Save the Date: December 3, 2016 in Salem, MA.
Bekah Jordan, Executive and Artistic Director
The 5th Wall Immersive Theatre Company