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‘Roadkill’ at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater chronicles sex trafficking

Wed, May 15, 2013

Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) presents the American premiere of Roadkill, a powerful, award-winning account of the terrifying complexities of contemporary sex trafficking. Based on real experiences, this multimedia story of a young woman forced into prostitution combines direct, chilling performances with video and animation.

Conceived and directed by Cora Bissett with text by Stef Smith, Roadkill begins on a bus where 20 audience members accompany a young girl, Mary, and her “Auntie” to Mary’s new home. Having just arrived from Nigeria, Mary hopes to learn English and land a good job one day. Staged in a Chicago apartment, the production places the audience directly in the young woman’s world, witnessing in close quarters how her hopes of a new life are suddenly destroyed as she is brutally forced into captivity and the world of sex trafficking.

Roadkill has been met with critical acclaim in Glasgow, Paris, London (2012 Olivier Award) and Edinburgh, where it was the only production in Edinburgh Festival Fringe history to win every major theater award—including the Amnesty Award for Freedom of Expression.

The play comes to Chicago in the midst of a state-wide public awareness campaign aimed at shifting law enforcement’s attention to sex traffickers and people who buy sex, and simultaneously proposing a network of support for survivors of the sex trade. The campaign, End Demand Illinois, advocates that prostituted people be considered victims of human trafficking in need of services, rather than as criminal offenders. On April 12, the Illinois Senate approved and moved legislation (SB 1872) to the Illinois House that would remove felony upgrade status for subsequent prostitution offenses.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s limited two-week World’s Stage Series presentation of Roadkill runs May 11–26. Scotland’s Bissett is among more than 600 international artists representing 16 countries with whom the theater has collaborated for the World’s Stage series. A limited number of tickets are on sale now for $45. The production contains adult themes, hard language, depictions of violence and sexually oriented nudity. Roadkill is not recommended for young or sensitive audiences. For more information, please call the CST Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visit www.chicagoshakes.com/roadkill.

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