Friday, 23 June 2017

My Dramaturgy is Free: Sam Hall @ Edfringe 2017

Play highlighting the appalling scale of modern day slavery in the UK to raise awareness at the 
Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Rah Rah Community Theatre Company presents
My Mind is Free
By Sam Hall

‘You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again you did not know!’
William Wilberforce

7 - 18 August 2017
Aug 7-8, 14-15 at 19:30 (65 mins)
Aug 9-10, 16-17 at 13:30 (65 mins)
Aug 11-12, 18 at 17:00 (65 mins)

Venue 405, 1 East Adam St, EH8 9TF (Opposite The Pleasance Courtyard)

Rah Rah Community Theatre Company has teamed up with The Salvation Army and anti-trafficking charity, Hope For Justice, to bring its production of MY MIND IS FREE by Sam Hall to this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe between the 7th-18th of August  to highlight the scale of the human trafficking problem in the UK today.

Human trafficking is the world’s fastest growing global crime. The 2015 Global Slavery Index estimates that there are 35.8 million people enslaved in the world. There are 1.1 million new, trafficked victims a year, 3,000 new victims a day, or a shocking 125 people per hour forced into slavery. The Metropolitan Police estimate that in the UK alone over 20,000 people are trafficked every year.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

I was initially approached by Merton Against Trafficking to write some short pieces for a charity fundraiser a couple of years ago. Whilst I was researching I was shocked by the scope of the problem and wanted to write a longer piece to highlight it. 

I was lucky enough to meet up with Jude Spooner of Rah Rah, who also wanted to do something to raise awareness of human trafficking and the play developed from there. The 4 stories in the play are based on real experiences, though they have been anonymised.   

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

Definitely. There is something in the relationship between the audience and the performers in a live show that acts like a magical symbiosis when the play's working. It can transform the written text. 

With this play, Rah Rah also runs a programme of workshops and charity speakers, so that people can find out more about what they can do about human trafficking. 

(See for more info.) 

How did you become interested in making performance?

I loved going to the theatre as a teenager doing English Lit, but I found myself sucked into journalism when I got to university, and stopped going to the theatre. A few years after my degree, I saw two really inspirational plays at the National Theatre which re-awakened my love for live performance; 'Edmond' and The Jerry Springer Opera

I remembered what it was I loved about being in a theatre and making work for that space and wanted to write plays again.  

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

This would more be a question for the director and cast. My Mind is Free had a successful tour in 2015, and once she'd received the final draft of the play, Jude the director made the decision to interpret it in a physical theatre way and she and the actors had a lot of fun devising movements to it. I made some changes to the text to incorporate that. So there is quite lively integrated movement and music, which serves as a contrast to the serious subject matter.  

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

In terms of my writing, this is the first fact-based drama I've written. (You can find out more about my writing on my blog:
What do you hope that the audience will experience?

From our experience of reactions to the play previously, we hope that the audience will be moved, entertained and then also possibly be better equipped to know what to do if they encounter someone they think might have been trafficked. It is quite an emotionally powerful play, so bring your hankies! 

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

I let the stories speak for themselves. Each character's story will chime with different people, how you react to it will be a lot to do with your own life story.  

MY MIND IS FREE is a powerful interpretation of the degradations of human trafficking. It tells the interlinked stories of four people trafficked to and within the UK and their horrifying tales of abuse, exploitation and enslavement. The production uses a mixture of physical theatre and multi–role playing to portray the epic journey and terrible risks that desperate people will go to in the pursuit of what they believe to be a better life, only to find that they are then exploited, ending up in a far worse position than when they started.  

The company first toured the production in 2015, receiving 4 and 5 star reviews. It was nominated for “Best stage play” in the Human Trafficking Foundation’s Anti-Slavery Media awards 2016 which was hosted by the Home Secretary at the House of Commons.

We are excited to be working with our charity partners to bring the play to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, alongside a series of workshops and talks which will inform audiences on how we, as a community, can make a change to fight this horrific crime and spot the signs of trafficking.

We will also be engaging with front-line workers on a training programme, in association with William Guild (the retired superintendent for Edinburgh Police) of  Hope For Justice, who will be key to highlighting trafficking taking place in Edinburgh.

We are very grateful to Awards for All Scotland for funding us and enabling us to visit the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2017 at the start of our UK tour.

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