Actors want to educate, empower with 'Stolen Lives'

McKenzie Rae-Clark as Chasity Cross (from left), Olaundra Grace as Vickie Cross and understudy Shaquilla Jackson as Tina Jewels rehearse a scene for Stolen Lives, a play to be staged Nov. 16 that depicts the vicious world of human/sex trafficking.
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When the actors of Stolen Lives take the Imperial Theatre stage Saturday, Nov. 16, their goal isn’t necessarily to entertain the audience with their acting skills.

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Olaundra Grace (left) and Shauna Biles rehearse a scene for Stolen Lives.  TODD BENNETT/STAFF
Olaundra Grace (left) and Shauna Biles rehearse a scene for Stolen Lives.

“The biggest thing is to bring awareness about sex trafficking,” said Kiara Bennett, who plays Tina, a young woman caught up in a life of prostitution and drug addiction.

The hard-hitting production rips its action from recent local headlines, which have revealed the problem hits closer to home than some people realize.

“This is up-close and personal,” said Olaundra Grace, who plays the role of Vickie. “People think it happens in just the larger cities or other countries, but it happens in Augusta and Atlanta.”

The story highlights the lives of two young women, who were products of the foster care system and eventually are lured into a life they don’t want to lead, but they feel powerless to escape.

An integral part of the play shows how they become entangled in it, and Grace hopes people will key in on this aspect. None of the victims in the play are kidnapped and held in locked rooms, but they are trapped in it nonetheless.

“A lot of kids leave from home because something is missing. They don’t want to be part of sex trafficking,” she said.

Parents, she said, should become more involved in the lives of their children, and others should watch for signs.

“These people lure you. They gain your trust. They give you things. Then, they own you,” she said.

This is the fifth production written by radio personality, Monique LaShon, also known as Miss Monique of Power 107 radio. She often addresses tough issues in her productions. Who Shot JR? deals with domestic violence, and I’ll Be My Brother’s Keeper highlights teen violence. Staged in June 2011, her first play, Don’t Tell Daddy, focused on HIV and the results of making poor choices.

The mission of her play production company, Raisin’ AJ Productions, is to “educate, empower young children and adults, promote, and encourage awareness of various social issues by changing lives one message at a time.”

Stolen Lives will be presented at 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday at Imperial Theatre. Tickets are $20-$27 by calling (706) 722-8341.

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