17th May, 2016 in St. Blaise Parish hall (Movie Theatre), Zagreb, Croatia.
As modern slavery exists in many guises and is gradually becoming more invisible, initiatives such as multi-media drama are playing a significant role in awareness-raising and helping us understand and assist vulnerable victims.
It is estimated that more than 45 million victims world-wide are without a voice, without representation. Robbed of their dignity, their suffering should not be hidden from us. As part of an awareness-raising campaign against human trafficking and modern slavery, the multi-media drama and forum SEE ME! HEAR ME! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1pJrgowZUs) was showcased in Zagreb recently, to give a voice to the voiceless and alert us to their silent cries. It is a drama where Kathleen Ann Thompson creates a compassionate and striking, surreal portrait of the victims, their traffickers and defenders.
In 1998, while travelling from Poland to Germany, Kathleen witnessed the trafficking of two young Ukrainian girls into the sex trade of Western Europe. Haunted by their faces and naive eyes, she contemplated their futures. They could not know the cruelty, torture, degradation and brokenness they would soon experience. The memory of that day stabbed her conscience, motivating her production of SEE ME! HEAR ME! as a call to give voice to more than 45 million people (mostly women and children) who exist in slavery.
In the open forum, Kathleen, Marija Znidarčić and Sr. Stanka presented their work and answered several questions from the audience about their work in drama and topics such as modern slavery, the role of Church in combating modern slavery and the significant involvement and participation of women in initiatives such as SEE ME! HEAR ME! (A short statement was prepared for the national Croatian radio station, and programme “The Trace of Faith” (http://radio.hrt.hr/aod/trag-vjere/162296/ ).
Those who attended the event declared a willingness to be more responsible and proactive in helping vulnerable groups. They agreed that theatre is a significant, influential medium, with the potential to have a great impact in addressing the theme of human trafficking, as the multi-media drama and forum SEE ME ! HEAR ME! has shown.
The organisers were Mrs. Marija Znidarčić (Christian Peaceful Circle) and Sr. Stanka Oršolić (Informal Anti-trafficking Network of believers in Croatia), who expressed their gratitude to Kathleen Ann and to all those who helped in so many ways. A special word of thanks was reserved for Msgr. Zvonimir Sekelj, Parish Priest.
For more about the event: http://narod.hr/kultura/umjetnoscu-protiv-trgovanja-ljudima-u-svijetu-je-vise-od-30-milijuna-zrtava-koje-su-bez-glasa; http://www.dsng.hr/trgovina-ljudi/hrvatska/njihova-patnja-ne-smije-biti-skrivena-od-ljudi
Kathleen Ann Thompson, Choreographer and dancer is Founder and Artistic director of Belleherst Productions (www.belleherst.com). Belleherst facilitates communication across cultural barriers of race, religion, nationality and age by using the theatrical arts as a cultural levelling tool. Belleherst develops mentoring programmes for youth, addresses faith issues and raises awareness of social injustices in international public arenas.
Kathleen Ann completed a B. A. and M. A. in Theatre Arts at the University of Michigan and studied physical theatre at Jacques Lecoq´s School for Movement Theatre, Paris. She also studied diversity in dance, commedia dell´arte and classical theatre in the United States of America. She was awarded the National Polish OFTA award and an Honorary Professorship by the Yunan Institute of Arts, Kunming, China. She has established schools in Poland and Latvia and is currently Artistic Director of these schools and their theatres. She has written and produced five major productions for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and directed numerous touring shows in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Great Britain and The United States of America.
Written by Sr. Stanka Oršolić, DSNG
Adapted by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications.