PEOPLE attend arts events for a range of reasons; to be entertained and amused certainly, but also to learn, be challenged, explore different perspectives and pertinent issues.

I have frequently left cultural events reflecting on the themes presented within; social behaviours, the environment as well as historical and political events which have led me to question my own behaviours and actions as a member of society.

I recently watched ORAL described as “a show about mouths, what goes into them, what comes out of them and what they are actually for”. The play is based on the author’s childhood experience of sexual abuse. It is a fearless exposé, brave, shocking, enlightening and humorous in places.

The latest figures from the NSPCC state that in 2016/17 there were 43,522 recorded sexual offences against children under 16 years in England. This figure is predicted to be much higher, as most children feel too ashamed and frightened to speak out.

ORAL is a call to arms. It gives a voice to victims, examines the complex relationship between abuser and victim, while reassuring and vindicating the innocent. By placing this societally taboo subject centre stage and addressing the sensitive nature of these topics, the show encouraged and empowered victims of abuse to seek the help and support they so deserve.

The following weekend I saw a family eco-friendly production, LET ME SHOW YOU, at the Phoenix in Exeter. The play was set on a generic Asian island where washed up plastic ensconces the shoreline, ruining communities and wildlife’s idyllic home.

A tourist child is drawn out to sea and into a surreal encounter with a fish, turtle and tiger, who relay how their interactions with plastic has led to their demise.

I could see that the turtle who became increasingly entrapped by plastic as she struggled to return to her birthplace to lay eggs, resonated with my children. Only days later, reports of a green sea turtle laying eggs on Maafaru island’s new runway went viral, sparking debate about the environmental cost of Maldives infrastructure development.

I applaud those who speak out against injustice and challenge behaviour, be they playwrights, Me Too advocates or schoolchildren mobilised by Swedish teen Greta Thunberg, we all have a voice to challenge behaviours and injustice and a shared duty of care to protect those in our society who are vulnerable.

Column by Vanessa Lefrancois, Chief Executive of The Brewhouse Theatre