A woman stared at me before telling, in graphic detail, of the trauma and despair of sex trafficking. Then a voice quietly said: “Let’s try that again.”
The voice belonged to Martin O’Brien, the author and director of a new one-woman show called Grace due to run in schools and beyond in the coming months.
In a rehearsal break, O’Brien told me that the play was a serious attempt to explore a subject as alarming as it is hidden in today’s Britain. It is just one of a number of controversial subjects he has tackled for the Ten Ten Theatre Company. “By using drama and story, we are able to speak to hearts and minds in a way that a regular lesson or speaker can’t,” he says.
Founded 10 years ago by O’Brien and his sister Clare, Ten Ten focused on faith-based theatre productions. Recently, it has moved into other artistic areas, notably education and film. “I think the fact that we have been sustainable for over 10 years in a relatively small market is testament to the need.”
Although his career started in acting, treading the boards in the West End, and later working in the sound studios of London’s television companies, he felt a calling to something more: “I had a particular gift for writing and producing drama with a social conscience, a moral question or a faith dimension that was wanted and needed, especially in the context of education.”
On meeting O’Brien, one would hardly guess what he has achieved over the last decade, so unassuming is he. He wears his success lightly: there is nothing of the impresario or maestro about him. No doubt this has contributed much to Ten Ten’s appeal. O’Brien combines qualities often seen in the artistic world but not always found together: creativity and an ability to deliver.
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