On the surface, “The Walk” tells the story of a nun, a playwright, and a director trying to write a play about women who have been victims of sex trafficking.
In the depths of the play, the three bicker amongst themselves which in turn makes the trafficked women’s stories come alive.
The story is based on playwright Catherine Cunningham-Huston’s experience while still living in Ottawa. She said in 2009, she was approached by an activist nun who wanted her to write the stories of trafficked women. Cunningham-Huston said the nun wanted it to serve as a platform for the women, but also to serve as a warning and educational tool for others.
And, from there the play took off. It was first presented at the Ottawa Fringe Festival in June 2011. After a six-show run in 2012, Cunningham-Huston said Public Service Canada asked her to adapt the play into an audio production for their truck stop safety campaign. She said the point was to alert workers to the sex trafficking that happened at truck stops, and how they could help stop it.
Now, the play is in Kelowna, co-produced by Cunningham-Huston’s Moon Dog Theatre, Global Citizen Events, Theatre Kelowna Society and Fred Skeleton Theatre Company.
Beth Fotheringham plays the activist nun Sister Maureen in the Kelowna production. Since getting involved with the show, she said it surprised her how much sex trafficking happened.
“It happened so much more than I thought. And it’s like other things where you become aware of it and suddenly you’re seeing stories about it everywhere,” she said.
“The most impactful thing for me is learning just how widespread it is and the amount of money being made from trafficking human beings.”
The production’s director Kim Fournier said they’ve had positive feedback for their portrayal of a heavy subject.
“Sometimes, we’re surprised with how much they learned about the issue because there are so many facts and statistics about it and it can be overwhelming,” she said.
“It’s making them think and talk about the issue, which is the whole purpose of the show. We want people to realize this isn’t just something that’s happening somewhere, it happens here too.”
“The Walk” runs until Feb. 29 at Kelowna’s Rotary Centre for the Arts. For tickets, visit their site.