Deborah Lake Fortson, the artistic director of THE BODY&SOLD PROJECT, has been making plays for twenty-five years. 1994, she wrote The Yellow Dress, a play about abuse in a teenage dating relationship that results in the death of the girl involved.  Since then, schools, colleges, and conferences all over the country have used The Yellow Dress, presented by Deana's Fund, as an educational tool to help young people identify situations where they may be in trouble.  Over 350,000 young people have seen this play. 

In 2000, Fortson formed Tempest Productions with two long-time theater collaborators, Meri Jenkins and Andrea Petersen, to create and produce works that would deal directly with cultural issues that affect women and girls.  Fortson is no stranger to the life issues experienced by inner city youth.  Tempest Productions is the non-profit sequel to Brookside Theater, a group established by Fortson and Magalie Neff to produce Dream Action Youth Theater.  This multi-lingual group from diverse communities in Boston wrote and performed its own plays from 1994-96. They collaborated with the Boston Teen Theater Network, and were supported by the Haymarket Peoples' Fund and the Mayor's Safe Neighborhoods fund. 

In 2002 Fortson saw an exhibition assembled by Myrna Balk, Boston artist and social worker, about girls in Nepal who had been trafficked into prostitution.  Fortson traveled to India to hear those girls’ stories firsthand.  She visited shelters that rescue girls who have been sold into prostitution against their wills.  These nongovernmental organizations house the girls and train them in reading, micro-banking, and marketable skills such as hairdressing and printing cloth.

Back in Boston, she formed a multicultural ensemble to create a theater piece based on two stories.  Body and Sold, Part I: Southeast Asia tells of two real-life girls, one from Nepal and one from India.  Lured by false promises, they are abducted to Bombay and sold to a brothel.  The play is based on their own words.

Boston activist Carol Gomez saw Part I and told Fortson that American teens are also being kidnapped or seduced and held in prostitution.  This conversation inspired Fortson’s research in the United States.  Body and Sold, Part II was the result, and is the precursor to BODY&SOLD.  The script is based on interviews with former victims in Boston, Hartford and Minneapolis.

It is our goal to link the excitement an audience finds in theater with a course toward action that works for change in society.  We have seen the success of The Yellow Dress and BODY&SOLD in raising awareness. With the involvement of teens and local service organizations in the BODY & SOLD project, we have a vehicle to raise awareness and move towards grass roots action on behalf of young people at risk.



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