Theatre is a powerful and transformative art form. I know, you’ve heard that before, but I’d like to bring your attention to a case in point. There’s a new play in the forming entitled, Land Of Smiles. Erin Kamler, perhaps best known in Los Angeles for her play, Divorce, the Musical, has for the last several years been researching and developing a musical that is about the women in Thailand that work in the sex trade. But more than that, it’s a different look at a world issue of human-trafficking.
Ms. Kamler came to this project as an extension of her graduate work at USC. She is currently finishing a PhD in Political Communication. This is in addition to her Masters in Public Diplomacy and Masters in Communication. Not to mention, she is a playwright, composer and lyricist. Therefore, it is with some significant pedigree that she approaches this topic.
Erin became interested in the topic because of her visits to Thailand. Many are aware of the fact that Thailand is one of the world epicenters for the sex-trad, making it a fertile territory of human-trafficking resulting in efforts by governments and “non-governmental organizations” (NGO)’s to address the problems inherent to that trade. Erin approaches the subject with a keen ear to those involved in the process. After months of research, which includes more than 50 interviews, Erin chose her passion for theatre as the vehicle to shed a whole new light on the topic.
Land of Smiles is a fictionalized story of a Burmese girl who is caught in a raid on a brothel in Northern Thailand. As she is suspected of being under age, she becomes a pawn in the struggle between a government trying to obfuscate political issues, NGO’s imposing ethnocentric moralities and the needs and wants of the women who have their own opinions.
Back in 2012, I had the privilege of seeing an early stage reading of Land Of Smiles. While those in attendance came because of their familiarity with Erin or the other artists involved, many, like myself, left in awe at the depth of understanding and compassion that was brought to the subject.
Since that time Land of Smiles has had several outings as a reading, and a production in Thailand that was received with audience and critical accolades. Next up, mounting a production the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, a month long convergence of theatre produced by world-class artists. This festival serves in many ways as a preview for producers to find their next big project. Here’s where you come in. While some funding is in place, a project of this scope is always in need of help. You can be that help by signing up on their INDIEGOGO web site, http://goo.gl/viLUDU. There are a number of levels of contribution, and all will go a long way to bringing this important work to a a stage near you.
Brilliant theatre is an accomplishment achieved by the collaborative efforts of many. From artists to sponsors, it takes all of us to help a show reach its potential. If there ever was such a show, Land of Smiles fits that bill. Lend a hand, contribute and wait to see one of the most compelling pieces of theatre you will ever encounter.