Avila's Theatre Department presents Voices, a a staged reading of first hand accounts from survivors of human trafficking.

Avila University Theater brings trafficking to light

By Glen Vaughn-Petersen

Avila University’s theatrical production, Voices, brings awareness to a major issue in the world today: human trafficking. 

Voices is a staged reading of first-hand accounts from survivors of human trafficking. 

After the show, there will be a panel about human trafficking with representatives from the KCPD; REHOPE, an organization providing services for women and children victims of trafficking; the Stop Trafficking Project, which seeks to combat all trafficking, but especially regarding minors, before it starts; and the Justice Project, which provides advocacy, counselling, and support to women who have been victims of human trafficking.

 “What I hope the audience gets from coming to the event is the understanding that these are real people and it’s really happening in the world, in our own backyard,” says Matt Schwader Harbor, Director of Performance Studies at Avila University. 

“Hopefully people can walk away with how they can be engaged, whether they can help support an organization that helps survivors or simply help their friends and family in the preventative stages and how to look out for one another as a community.”

The play The Walk written by playwright Catherine Cunningham-Huston had been originally scheduled. But due to conflict  regarding character representation among the performers, the decision was made to abandon the play and give a different presentation on the topic. 

“The play is still fully staged. It’s very moving,” says Schwader Harbor. “I’m overwhelmed with pride of my students. They’ve done a wonderful job.” 

In Avila University’s Theatre Department, part of the decision that went into this was its alignment with their mission of social justice, including the emphasis of the worth, dignity, and potential of every human being, as well as serving the “Dear Neighbor” without distinction. “It’s very hard to find plays that deal with this subject matter in a healthy and quality way,” says Schwader Harbor.

Voices will be performed November 17 – 18 and 20th in the Frantze Family Black Box Theatre in the Goppert Performing Arts Center at Avila University, 119th and Wornall. For tickets call the box office at 816-501-3699 or email box.office@avila.edu

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