This writer had the unique opportunity to be a guest for the initial reading of “Project: Turnpike,” a creative work, a “play in progress” based on the topic of human trafficking from the book, “The Berlin Turnpike.” Human Trafficking is now in the forefront…and it exists in every state and virtually every country globally.
For those born and bred in Connecticut…who used to go to the Berlin Drive-In, dressed in jammies excitedly ready to see a movie from the car, are somewhat taken aback that this occurs now…and has occurred in the past, literally in Ladyjustice’s backyard! How uncomfortable and shameful a feeling! After all, this is Connecticut… supposedly the wealthiest state in the United States!
First of all, the play was presented in the historic, former retail store turned Capital Community College in Hartford, known as the old G. Fox & Company….a staple for those of us growing up in Connecticut. This gorgeous 1930 art deco style architecture took Ladyjustice back to her early childhood in the 1960’s. Seeing the transformation into a practical, stylish 11 story building for the first time… after all these years was truly enthralling! Take a look at history…. http://www.chs.org/finding_aides/fox/welcome.htmls
The second part of this amazing experience was the opportunity to meet one of the playwrights, Debra Wright (in the elevator), in addition to the wonderful author (and guest on “Shattered Lives,”), Ray Bechard.
To listen to the podcast of Shattered Lives interview with Ray Bechard: CLICK HERE
The expansive auditorium was the backdrop to the small, purposefully sparse stage…. No scenery to distract from the acting. However, such a situation is a heavy burden on actors with only a book of dialogue, a music stand for support and their raw talent.
The cast of characters included “Magic,” the hustler-pimp; and his charges… in different stages of degradation and servitude, living and working along a series of motels and businesses known as the “Berlin Turnpike” (Route 15). Other characters were known as Andy, Helen, Rose, Caz and Rayne.” The plot surrounded the indoctrination, the luring of a new victim, “charmed and snapped up quickly” right from the Union (train) station. The new girl in town is from Vermont, and as naive as a dairy farmer’s existence can be….. The other more seasoned and hardened women proceed to acquaint her with the facts of life regarding exploitation.
In the beginning, the new young recruit is mesmerized by Magic’s charms and does not yet see his toxic side. Throw in a woman from Bosnia (who sounds just like Natasha from the Bullwinkle cartoon) who is his recruiter, “main woman” and also in love with Magic…… and it makes for one sickening recipe for disaster! Did this writer mention that Magic has a perfectly charming family including kids at home who believe he works for the CIA?
Different characters try to obey, try to stay alive and recount their worst experiences for the newbie. To add more spice, one woman who has been kept around longer than usual, finds herself pregnant…and is planning an escape…. Does she make it out? What happens to the newbie? What becomes of this group? Ladyjustice’s lips are sealed….
Kudos go to actors Maggie Erwin, Warren Hawk, Jessica Moss, Lily Narbonne, Julia Rosenbaatt, and Patrick Sullivan. Further kudos go to writers, Cindy Martinez, Debra Walsh and director, Steven Ginsburg! Congratulations to HartBeat Ensemble and Capital Community College for embracing controversy and real topics!
As a work in progress, the Director asked for feedback from the audience. The play will be re-worked with a second reading under the watchful eye of Connecticut author, Ray Bechard. And then… in 2013, the final play in its entirety, will spring forth for the world to see… Stay tuned!
Links to check out:
Parting words… What did Ladyjustice think of the play?
‘Just fabulous… It really makes you think…and appreciate!
The raw truth about human trafficking: