Project Girl Performance Collective: Trafficked
by: Sarah Kess
June 10, 2012
“What is it about my heartbeat that said ‘beat me?’” asks one of 15 characters in Trafficked, a play written and performed by members of Project Girl Performance Collective. Launched in 2008, PGPC workshops and performances provide girls age 8-21 the opportunity to write and perform their own work. One year and 54 revisions after its conception, Trafficked, a story of sex trafficking and child exploitation, has opened at Planet Connections Theatre Festivity.
Fifteen high school and college-age girls watched documentaries, independently researched and read extensively about sex trafficking in America in order to develop the Trafficked script. They spoke with a survivor of sex slavery from Brooklyn. Some pulled from more personal experiences; Georgie Exinord, 15, a native of Haiti, based her character on a friend who had been abducted, trafficked, and later returned to tell her story.
Karen Vigo, 20, decided her character would be from Hunts Point, the South Bronx neighborhood known for its high rates of prostitution. “I live in the South Bronx. This is a topic I can relate to. I can speak out for them,” she says.
Trafficked is PGPC’s first full-length play. Other performances have focused on topics ranging from rape in the Congo to child marriage. Writing and performing a piece on sex trafficking hit close to home for many. “It happens to girls in places where we come from,” says Dominique Fishback, 21. “We are the ages of these girls who are suffering,” adds Monica Furman, 17.
The girls developed their individual characters and wrote monologues, songs and spoken word poems. They then collaborated with PGPC founder Ashley Marinaccio and Executive Director Jessica Greer Morris to produce the play, which tells the stories of several exploited girls. Some escape to safe houses, some become advocates, and some don’t make it out alive. Deanna Alexander, 17, says, “Before Project Girl, I had no idea you could use theater for social change.”