Oakland Child Trafficking Epidemic Inspires Play

"Cold Piece of Werk" debuts in March

Tracie Collins, a professional doula with three children, is deeply concerned about the plight of underage women who are trafficked into prostitution in Oakland.

"Living in the City of Oakland and seeing young girls up and down International Boulevard, I often wondered about their stories," she says. "What brought them to that place?"

Collins, who is also a playwright, actor, director and producer, has come up with a creative expression as a response to the child prostitution epidemic in Oakland. She has written, directed and produced (but does not appear in) a new stage show called "Cold Piece of Werk." There will be four performances at Kaiser Center Lakeside Theatre on March 14-15.

"Sex/human trafficking is often seen as an international issue, but not as something taking place in the Bay Area, specifically Oakland," Collins said. "It could be someone you know: your mother, sister, daughter, neighbor, friend. My productions tackle controversial subjects like this."

The FBI considers Oakland a "high-intensity child prostitution area." A 2010 investigative report produced by Youth Radio in Oakland and aired on NPR is a window into a bleak world where girls barely into their teens are kidnapped and often raped into servitude.

The problem is so insidious in Oakland that in 2014 there was a citywide billboard, poster and bus shelter campaign to raise awareness, according to the Los Angeles Times. And for as many young ladies as are visible on International Boulevard, countless more have been taken to work in distant cities like Sacramento and Las Vegas.

Tracie Collins may be best known in the theater world for The V Monologues: A Black Woman's Interpretation, her 2013 self-produced stage play that featured former CBS 5 anchor Dana King in the lead role of the Vagina Monologues remix.

With Cold Piece of Werk, "I want to give a voice to the voiceless: the black, brown and white girls of the Bay Area and around the world," she says.

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