October 20, 2017

Star Tribune: Rosenblum: Twin Cities play ‘Body and Sold’ reveals grim truth of sex trafficking

Kendall Kent was “stunned into silence” when introduced to “Body and Sold,” a myth-busting play about the devastating impact of sex trafficking.

“This is happening in the suburbs?” said Kent, 22, who grew up in Minnetonka.

“Rich white men. People like my neighbors. People I’ve known my whole life. It’s shocking and disconcerting. It’s hard to handle because it’s close to home.”

Kent wasn’t in the audience for the play, which is being performed around the Twin Cities area by Chain Reaction Theatre Project.

She’s in the play.

Her teenage character, Karen, needs money, so she and a friend giddily and naively start dancing in bars. Their situation quickly escalates into tragedy.

Like all the characters portrayed, Karen is based on interviews with real survivors in five major cities, including Minneapolis.

Kent’s reaction was a common one among the 10 talented young actors playing various roles, including a small-town girl, a young gay man thrown out of his house, a college student whose dad has lost his job, and a smooth-talking pimp.

The fact that sex trafficking happens here “was pretty new to most of them,” said director Shelley Smith, noting that much of it has gone online.

Smith, who founded the Eden Prairie-based social justice theater company in 2011, provided her troupe with videos, literature and resources that quickly disabused them of the notion that this crime happens only in other countries to other people. Or that the girls, and boys, actually like the work. Or that all they have to do is walk away.

The average age of a victim in her first encounter is 13, according to the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, although victims are as young as 6. Boys and young men, too, are victims of sex trafficking.

Read the whole article here. 

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