EDEN, N.C. – After hours of research on human trafficking, writing, and rehearsing, “Red Light,” a play written and produced by theatre students at Morehead High School in Rockingham County, finally came to fruition.
Under the direction of their theater teacher, Krista Stewart, the play was written by seniors Gage Rawlins, Kaitlyn Blankenship, Hallie Bullins, Kennedy Cohen, Holli Burroughs, and junior Riley Gilliam, and portrays the lives of six young women victims of human trafficking.
The idea came after navigating themes of LGBT, PTSD, race and gender in past plays.
“We are a passionate class about social justice,” shares Cohen. “So, we said, ‘Why not human trafficking?’”
When asked how long the play took to write, the students all shared looks of exhaustion, yet with a little sense of pride and laughter.
“It took basically all summer,” Gilliam said with a side eye.
Blankenship said each writer researched a specific aspect of human trafficking.
“I researched a lot of about how girls who would be trying to find jobs, whether it be like modelling or babysitting or whatever it is, how if they find an ad, when they go somewhere, they would be drugged or something would happen to them,” she commented.
Bullins focused her writing on a character, Kimmy, who was targeted for trafficking due to a disability.
“It was really eye-opening to see how people take advantage of those with disabilities,” Bullins said. “I didn’t realize it was so common.”
The students said they wanted to ensure each character had a voice of their own.
“We didn’t want them to fit a stereotype either,” added Cohen.
The students performed the play at the All County Theatre competition at McMichael High School in front of parents and fellow theatre students from within the school system.
Stewart says the play was well received by the audience and the community.
“Theatre isn’t only meant to entertain and make people smile, it’s also about making a difference,” she said.