‘Things We Do Not Know’ shares the stories of Bristol’s street sex workers

“It’s called ‘Things we do not know’ because we are not trying to pretend that we know anything about these women or the work that they do; it’s not something that we can fully understand.”

The creative and brave student theatre piece ‘Things we do not know’ returns to the stage for a second year to share testimonials of Bristol’s street sex workers, in collaboration with the charity One25. Lucy Russell met up with the director Kate Wyver to discuss how these stories continue to challenge prejudices surrounding sex work.

How did you create this theatre piece?

It’s a piece of verbatim theatre, so it was put together by Bristol students from the real testimonies of street sex-workers in Bristol. We created the show in association with One25, a Bristol based charity that helps sex-workers struggling with drug addictions to stay off the streets. Really it’s about hearing the voices and the stories of these women.

Why did you choose to bring the show back and do it again?

We performed the show last year through Bristol Spotlights and I think everyone involved felt that it was such an important production. It’s an incredibly significant issue to highlight and talk about as many of these women are on the streets right now and it’s just not being discussed. We have changed and adapted some of the pieces and testimonies we used previously but the message is still the same: we are still trying to draw attention to and generate discussion around street sex-work. We’re even hoping to take the show on tour around the South West and we really just want as many people to see it as possible.

How did you research the production?

A lot of the research was done through the charity One25. We were given some testimonies by the charity and found others in their archives. The girls in the production chose testimonies that they found personally moving and then found ways to combine them through movement and song.

We also visited the premises of One25 last year before the original production. We saw the van that they use as a safe space for these women and got a feeling for the kind of environment they had created. It felt  safe but also comfortable.

Did you find anything striking in your research?

The main thing that hit me was the lack of choice that most of these women felt they had in their situations. Every testimony is unique but almost all told their stories with the feeling that they’d been forced into street work and that they really didn’t have any choice in where they’d ended up.

What should we expect from ‘Things we do not know’?

It’s called ‘Things we do not know’ because we are not trying to pretend that we know anything about these women or the work that they do; it’s not something that we can fully understand. We just want people to see the show and recognise the issues that these women are facing. In talking about their lives, we hope to challenge any perceptions or prejudices the audience may have about sex-work.

Catch ‘Things we do not know’ on 16, 17 & 18 March 2017

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