"I"ll love you. I'll never leave you," said the 31 year old stranger to the lost looking 12 year old standing in the bus station. These are the words that are music to the girl's ears. Having been abandoned by those she thought of as family, she reaches out …and is trapped. "All I wanted was for someone to love me."
The human trafficking of young girls for sex is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. It happens not only in Europe, but here in the United States.
According to statistics, NYC authorizes believe that there are 2,200 children (in their city alone) victimized by commercial sexual exploitation annually. The most frequent age of entry into the industry is 12-14 years and most of the children come from a history of child sexual abuse. Human trafficking is across the board for race, sex, and age.
Despite all this, the children, the victims, are accused and held for and treated as criminals and the Johns and pimps are let off scott free.
In order to take action against this subversive problem, we must be aware and awareness is one thing this play brings.
The astounding debut of Innocent Flesh at the Zephyr Theatre, written and directed by NAACP award winner Kenyetta Lethridge and produced by Michael Mann and Diana Zollicoffer, was met by a standing ovation .
Inspired by her mentoring the young girls of the streets, stories of human trafficking, the LAPD and Sparks, an organization that helps young runaways, Ms. Lethridge's one act play takes on stories of rape, abortion, molestation and cries for help.
Childhood games of jumping rope combine with their need for survival in this adult hypersexed world where young American girls are being raped daily for profit. The emotional and physical trauma scares these girls for life.
Centering on four girls of vastly different backgrounds, the story takes us on the journey of four lives who are looking for a Daddy to love. Angelina Prendergast (Lupita) plays a young girl whose ex military father went on a post traumatic stress episode killing her mother and brother before she ran away to find herself on the streets; Clara Gabrielle,(Danna) the daughter of well to-do stiff parents felt totally misunderstood when she ran away and found her life on the streets; Daphne Gabriel (Candace) was seduced by a stranger at the age of 12 and claims that “my mother never even cared where I went.” The last girl Jameelah Nuriddin (Lisa) was, herself, the product of a drug addicted prostitute who ran away after being forced to live with her disapproving grandmother. The general theme of their lives is the desire for acceptance and love that they never felt at home. Each of the girls have dreams of better lives; none know how to escape the life they are in.
Written in a multi layered style of poetry, dance and a modern take on the Classical Greek Chorus, the story expresses the many obstacles that underage prostitute face and how hard it is for them to escape the life once they are involved .
The acting was superb and all the young women showed a great range of talent.
Producer Michael Mann, who has been in the entertainment business since childhood, and has worked in and with both Broadway and off Broadway productions is now a manager of actors, writers and filmmakers. He is currently executive producing "Worried Minds" with Elliott Gould, which begins filming 2012.
Producer Diana Zollicoffer is currently working in developing two new features "THE MYRTLES" to be directed by Eduardo Sanchez (The Blair Witch Project) and "MY TYPE OF WOMAN" a romance starring Dennis Haysbert (24, The Unit, Far from Heaven, All State Insurance Spokesperson . A pioneer member of The SideWalk Theatre Company in Burbank, she has directed various multi-media projects for both non profits and Fortune 1000 companies.
Innocent Flesh gained notoriety in 2011 with performances in North Hollywood, Downtown, West Hollywood and now the Zephyr Theatre. An important social statement, this play needs to be seen by everyone.
The play will have an limited run here in Los Angeles before heading off Broadway New York City in 2012. See it this January and Feburary at the Zephyr Theatre on Tuesdays and Wednesdays Jan 17-18; 24-25. Feb 1-2; 8-9; 14-15.
For more information about the play contact Michael Mann, 310 488 9360.