The Abolitionist Theater Project is a group of young collaborative performers seeking to create social change through the power of theater and art.
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The Abolitionist Theatre Company is a group of performance artists from Brown University committed to using theatre for social change. Our mission is to use the communicative power of artistic, authentic, activist theatre to strengthen, enliven, and broaden social justice movements, and to transform all people into agents of change. We believe that abolition of the beliefs and dynamics that prevent people from actively fighting exploitation, poverty and injustice is the necessary first step in the abolition of these realities.
The ATC’s pilot project, The Abolition Project, is designed to connect young people in Providence with the movement to end modern day forms of slavery. Through the research, creation and performance of a creative ensemble theatre piece about Commercial Sexual Exploitation, we will train our artistic voices to speak the language of social change. By collaborating with the most powerful generation – the youth – throughout our process, we will inspire and empower them to speak the same language.
"Step 1: Research
In order to acquire a sophisticated understanding of sex slavery and the effects it has on its victims, we will conduct in-depth research with support from local leaders in the anti-trafficking movement such as My Life My Choice, Rhode Island Coalition Against Human Trafficking and Day One. We also plan to meet with survivors of CSE to gain an understanding of the personal consequences of sex slavery, which will enable us to tell their stories.
Step 2: Training
Telling the complex story of commercial sexual exploitation will require great care and capability. To build our skills, we will participate in a workshop with Double Edge Theatre, a company renowned for its wildly imaginative devised theatre pieces, its unique rehearsal process and its emphasis on rigorous training. From our experience with Double Edge, we hope to harness their expertise and to sharpen our own storytelling skills for this project.
Step 3: Development
Research and training in hand, we will develop an original theatre piece about Commercial Sexual Exploitation. Each rehearsal will be spent generating material through improvisation. Then, we will choose material to be stitched into a complete performance. In April, we will stage a preliminary version of our piece to be work-shopped with our colleagues from the theatre community as well as organizations combating human trafficking. We will then spend three weeks rehearsing and refining our piece to incorporate their feedback.
Step 4: Realization
Finally, we will perform our piece for students at local high schools. There will be a preparatory class on human trafficking for the teachers to offer their students, as well as a follow-up in-class discussion with the Abolition Project cast. The experience will not end with the performance and discussion. We plan to host a series of summer theatre workshops with interested students, in which they will be taught the improvisational techniques we used in our process, with the goal of helping them create their own short pieces about modern-day slavery."
- OUR PROCESS
Art can say what the numbers can’t.
A quick Google search will reveal stomach-churning statistics about the number of victims and the high profitability of the sex trafficking industry on international, national and local levels. But what the numbers can’t say is that the most devastating effects of trafficking happen on a personal level. Modern slavery is not only about physical bonds; it’s about psychological ones. Those most often ensnared are those who are most desperate and disenfranchised, including low-income women and underage runaways. Once in ‘The Life’, victims believe there is no way out, or refuse to see that their relationship is abusive. Even when rescued, many of the girls still maintain the sense of worthlessness that has been instilled in them: “Once a ho always a ho.” The attack is to the core of human worth.
There are many organizations already fighting slavery through formal legal channels, but we believe that only art can address the cultural changes that need to take place in order to abolish modern slavery. To this end, we propose a re-imagined Abolitionist movement: we want to use our craft to spread the word to young people about the myths of sex trafficking. In raising this kind of awareness, we hope to prevent future manipulation and demand, as well as empower peers to speak for their friends and their generation.
SLAVERY EXISTS TODAY