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Traffick  is a work about violence, desperation and loss. It reveals the terrifying expansive underworld of the trafficking ‘profession’, unravelling the experience of trapped men and women.

Nic Chalmers libretto
Emma-Ruth Richards  composer

Media reports of human trafficking crimes usually give us little insight into a trafficked person’s individual experience – necessarily so, in order to protect their identities. So the spotlight inevitably turns to the perpetrators, leaving us with only a generalised impression of the men and women lost to statistics. But these Anonymous have a name. In  Traffick,  composer Emma-Ruth Richards and writer Nic Chalmers seek to give them a voice. Highlighting not only the experiences they have endured but also, once ‘rescued’, the horrific procedure they have to submit to in order to gain the necessary ‘victim’ status required to seek asylum in the UK.

The sexual and physical abuse itself is bodily, of course, but everything else lives viscerally beneath the surface: chaotic, conflicted, and difficult to articulate. The sex slave has no jurisdiction over their own body, but their mind is the one thing of which they retain ownership. Imagination becomes a means of survival, therefore; it is a secret chamber and a way of resizing a relationship to the world around them.

Traffick  is being created by composer Emma-Ruth Richards and writer and artist Nic Chalmers. The libretto was commissioned by Nordland Teater and the work has been developed in association with director Natalie Abrahami and the Royal Opera House.  

Performance forces:  6 singers (2 sopranos, 2 mezzos, countertenor, baritone) and medium-sized ensemble(winds (, horn, perc. (1), guitar, strings(

About the artists' work

“highly charged and simply beautiful”
Bachtrack on Emma-Ruth Richards's work with Opera North



Traffick is a work about violence, desperation and loss, revealing the terrifying expansive underworld of the trafficking ‘profession’.

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