Moving play, She Has a Name, comes with a message

West Shore RCMP charging a Victoria man with forcibly prostituting a 16-year-old girl brings the issue to the forefront.

Number 18 hears her fate echoed by a Greek chorus in the play She Has a Name. Supporters of human rights hope to bring the show to the Victoria Fringe Festival later this year.

Sexual slavery is not something you read about in the headlines every day, but recent stories about the West Shore RCMP charging a Victoria man with forcibly prostituting a 16-year-old girl through a number of websites brought the issue to the forefront.

“We are really excited to be a part of bringing awareness of human trafficking to the local community in Victoria,” said Sarahanne Tolsma.

Tolsma is working to help bring a Calgary play to the Victoria Fringe Festival Aug. 24-Sept. 3.

“This play is meant to stir people in Victoria into becoming local abolitionists that care about this issue and are informed about what is going on in our world, in our country and in our city,” she said.

The play, She Has a Name, written by Andrew Kooman, sheds light on sex slavery and its devastating effects.

She Has a Name tells the story of a young teenage girl, called Number 18, forced to work in a Bangkok brothel and a Canadian lawyer named Jason who poses as a john in order to collect evidence to bring the perpetrators of the crimes against her to justice.

When Kooman focuses on the conversations between Number 18 and Jason, he shows his gift for creating powerful, believable dialogue that can draw an audience in. The story makes viewers care for the young captive prostitute, even knowing that a happy ending may not lie ahead. The two-hour play uses interesting plot devices, including a three-person Greek chorus that eerily ushers Number 18 toward her fate.

“We really want to raise awareness about what’s going on in the world and in our own city,” said Tolsma. “It’s very secretive. It’s definitely all around the world, and you think of it happening in Cambodia or India, but it’s also in our own backyard.”

Tolsma wants to raise $10,000 to bring the play to the Victoria Fringe Festival, but has a tight time line. “It’s quite a job. It’s a great challenge. I only heard about the play recently and we have a deadline to raise the money.”

The show has to be funded to be able to commit to the Victoria Fringe Festival.

Produced by Burnt Thicket Theatre through a partnership with Raise Their Voice, which creatively addresses issues of injustice, it has charitable status and is able to issue tax receipts for donations.

For more information or to make a donation, contact Tolsma at



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