People’s Light in Malvern to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation in Powerful New Play


In March, People’s Light in Malvern launched a month-long crowdfunding campaign around Project Dawn, a vital new play inspired by Project Dawn Court in Philadelphia, a real-life innovative court program designed to transform the lives of women trapped within the commercial sex industry.

The $7,500 campaign goal will underwrite theatre tickets for targeted communities who could benefit from seeing the play, but who would not otherwise attend, including:

  • social workers
  • teachers
  • first responders
  • parole officers
  • law enforcement
  • students

Partial and complete ticket subsidies for these key groups will expand the production’s reach, as well as foster empathy and understanding among those who serve our most vulnerable populations.

Based on playwright Karen Hartman’s extensive observation and research, Project Dawn bursts with urgency. But it’s also full of deep empathy and humor, bridging the gap between what we might currently know about sexual exploitation and what we could know – what is actually happening in our own backyards.

Project Dawn shows that victims of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking are real women worthy of care, love, dignity, and respect,” said Carol Metzger, local anti-trafficking advocate and author of Facing the Monster. “The play shows that there are a lot of myths held by society that must be broken.

“For teachers, law enforcement officers, or health workers who may be dealing with victims on the front lines and may not recognize the signs, the play paints a very clear picture of who is being harmed and how that happens. It elicits great empathy. We may be seeing (these people) for the very first time.”

The play, in which seven actresses play double roles as both participants and staff members of the Philadelphia court, illustrates the shared humanity and dignity of women on both sides of the law.

Shea Rhodes, Director of the Villanova Law Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation, met with Karen Hartman throughout the play’s development.

Project Dawn shows that (commercial sexual exploitation) could happen to anyone, from any socioeconomic or racial background,” she said. “It happens in Chester County. You don’t need a street corner anymore; the Internet is the street corner.”

Abigail Adams, Director of Project Dawn and Artistic Director and CEO at People’s Light, said: “Project Dawn informs, challenges, and celebrates those involved in fighting human trafficking in a way that no class, seminar, or chapter in a book could capture.”

Click here to view the crowdfunding campaign.

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