“Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it.”
—Attributed to Bertolt Brecht
That concept forms the basis for the Hammer Ensemble, Flying Anvil Theatre’s performance wing dedicated to social justice issues. Their first production, The Pall: In the Shadows of Human Trafficking, opens this weekend for three performances. Produced in partnership with Freedom 4/24, a national organization that aids victims of human trafficking, The Pall focuses on the plight of those forced into sex and labor trafficking, a global issue unfolding as close as the next interstate exchange.
Artistic director John F. Ferguson, co-writer of The Pall along with Linda Parsons, says of the eight-member ensemble’s first production: “Knoxville is a hub for human trafficking. We find this appalling. As socially engaged artists, The Hammer is dedicated to using theatre to generate awareness and insight concerning complex social issues.”
The Pall will have three performances Sunday-Tuesday, January 21-23, at the Flying Anvil Theatre, 1300 Rocky Hill Rd, at 7:30 PM. Call 865-357-1309 for information. Mature audiences.
Admission by donation only, all proceeds go to Freedom 4/24 in coordination with Run 4 Their Lives, a 5k run/walk on January 27 to raise awareness and funds to bring sexually exploited women and children into freedom.
Synopsis of The Pall: In the Shadows of Human Trafficking
(from The Hammer Ensemble)
Some live in the shadows, hidden from the workaday world, many of them tender, young, and vulnerable. The Pall: In the Shadows of Human Trafficking presents defiant, emotional portraits of these lives. In the vein of The Living Theatre, the play opens with an attempt to exorcise society’s pall of commercial sex and labor trafficking. When the exorcism fails, the play must be performed. A mosh pit forms, the struggle of writhing bodies in an upside-down world where scenes of domination, desperation, and deception emerge: a carnival-like ‘slave auction,’ the ‘Ratty Room’ of punishment, sexual initiation by a family member, blackmail, drugs as weapons and reward. Throughout, the pall, represented by a black cloth, becomes a character that joins and intertwines the scenes, sometimes a comfort, sometimes torment, reminding the actors and audience these activities are happening right now in the vacant house down the block, the economy motel, the Waffle House, the nearest interstate exchange or truck stop. Our work seeks to shed light on and raise awareness of this all-too-prevalent activity happening in plain sight. Light and awareness beget action and hope, both for victims and for societal change. The play was developed and performed in partnership with an organization that aids and rescues trafficking victims, with all proceeds going to the organization.