Teens talk sex trafficking in theater production

"Lost in the Shadows" debuts Friday February 20 at 7 p.m.

Some of the cast of "Lost in the Shadows" from the Actor's Actor Studio in Portland, Feb. 13, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)
Some of the cast of "Lost in the Shadows" from the Actor's Actor Studio in Portland, Feb. 13, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — KOIN 6 News recently reported on the death of sex trafficking victim Ashley Benson, and now a group of local teenagers are taking the issue of sex trafficking to center stage.

“They come from good families,” George Elliott, managing director of Actor’s Actor Studio, told KOIN 6 News. “It’s not the stereotype people often think of when they think of prostitution.”

Elliot wrote the play “Lost in the Shadows” after he learned how rampant sex trafficking is in Portland.

"Lost in the Shadows" debuts Friday February 20. (Actor's Actor Studio)
“Lost in the Shadows” debuts Friday February 20. (Actor’s Actor Studio)

“My whole thing was, 95% of my students are young women between the ages of 13-17,” Elliot said.

Actors in the production told KOIN 6 News they were stunned to learn how big of an issue sex trafficking is in the Portland area.

“I start saying statistics like Portland goes back and forth between number one and number two in the nation. Their eyes get big and they’re like, ‘are you serious?'” teen actor Alexia C. Smith said. “People aren’t aware.”

The teens hope showing the unglamorous side of sex trafficking could help save at least one girl from entering the same world as Ashley Benson.

“It’s going to show them that it’s possible for things like this to reach out that far and extend past the city to more of the suburban areas,” teen actor Taylor Hudson said.

The group of actors recently dedicated a rehearsal to Benson — a girl who they said probably felt like she had nowhere else to go.

“And the worse her drug habit got, the more vulnerable she probably was to that element,” Elliot said. “She didn’t deserve to die.”

Opening night for “Lost in the Shadows” will be held Friday February 20 at 7 p.m. at Portland Metro Arts on Stark Street. For information on showtimes and to reserve tickets, click here.

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