“Roadkill” – a Bus Ride to Human Trafficking
I’ve received a lot of invitations to plays about human trafficking. At first, I’d go. I wanted to support the organizations fighting this problem and see how they use theater to raise awareness.
But, I have to be honest, many of them felt contrived at best. Most seemed to glory in the suffering, a la “SVU.”
In particular, I’ve noticed both the actors and scripts often highlight victimization rather than personhood. Rather than following a story or character that will inspire the audience, these shows might use a large cast and cover every fact about what human trafficking is and how it works.
I could read that in an article or book. I leave feeling like I’ve been lectured or yelled at in a failed attempt to manipulate my emotions.
This play looks different, though. Created by Cora Bissett, Roadkill is an immersive piece that began its journey at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2010. Now it’s enjoying a sold out run in New York City.
In Roadkill, a small group (approx 20) audience members ride a bus with the main character. They spend time with her in a cramped room. They get to know her. And when they observe her demise, they care about it. That’s something only theater can do.
I haven’t seen the show. I’m basing my thoughts on Ben Brantley’s review. But if more new works could capture serious issues in such an intimate way, perhaps we’d all be more likely to attend, and more aware of the needs around us.
(Photo: Mercy Ojelade in Roadkill – Photography by Tim Morozzo)