MIA “WHERE HAVE ALL THE YOUNG GIRLS GONE”, a new work written and directed by Mary Bonnett, performed by Her Story Theater, is currently in production through April 9, 2023, at Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago.
Acted by Jamise Wright with Tristin Hall, this is a not-to-be-missed play- the subject matter is fascinating, the stagecraft and direction spot on illuminating the underlying beautifully written book, but it is the acting of the whole by Wright and Hall that holds one spellbound for 90 minutes and makes the audience grateful that no intermission marred their storytelling.
This is not the first piece written by Bonnett, put on by HER STORY, and acted by Wright to rave reviews on the subject matter of human trafficking. 2018’s MONGER was likewise moving and memorable. Yet MIA tugs at the heartstrings in a very different and very profound way. It makes the experience of each and every missing girl immediate, terrifying, the central fact/tragedy of her mother’s life.
After seeing MIA, the numbers of the trafficked- hundreds of thousands- both fade away and resonate in your consciousness: they are all multiples of ONE girl, of MIA, who is where? Is she ever to come home? Alive or dead? Tortured? Raped? Did she leave voluntarily? Why? What did we do to create such a society? Was it the media? Social apps? The school? The music? Were we bad mothers? Too poor? Did we work too much, not home enough to supervise? Didn’t we love our daughters enough?
And of course, the iconic daughter/mom- both acted by Wright-raise other implicit and overt questions: Why have I been imprisoned? Why am I hurt and hungry? When can I get free? And Why doesn’t the media care about my brown or black girl like they did/do about a JonBenet?
Hall’s character is the helpmate special police- the character in all our lives that we never appreciate until they are needed more than anything- and then they are the blessed.
After the opening performance last Sunday, March 12, Deputy Chief Dion Trotter, Special Victims Unit with the Cook County Sheriff’s Department participated in a post-show talkback with the audience-one of his colleagues, in the audience with her daughter, also answered questions. The nature of the discussion clearly demonstrated that this audience had got “the point”: they wanted, first and foremost, to know how to protect their daughters. But this audience was also possibly (thankfully?) naïve. There were no questions about large-scale immigration/deportation gangs or dancer/prostitution groups, as though hundreds of thousands of girls ended up in boxes below ground.
All photos by Michael Brosilow.
Kudos and thanks to the entire production team: Set Designer Richie Schiraldi, Lighting and Sound Designer Blake Cordell, CCDM for Music Design, Choreographer Melinda Wilson, and Stage Managers Sean Smyth and Genevieve Swanson.