Slammed (Crosstown Artists) Project Launch
The launch of “Slammed” begins with a bang, as former high school teacher Stefanie Brooke Harper takes the stage to deliver a poetic apology to youth for leaving them a broken world with no tools to fix it. As author of “Slammed”, Harper is clearly passionate about the project and the night progresses, it is easy to appreciate why.
“Slammed” is set in a fictitious but familiar contemporary Australian high school where downtrodden 15-year-old Jake Ryan is battling his way to find his place in the world. He’s not the only one getting ‘slammed’, however, and it soon becomes clear that if you scratch the surface, everyone has their own life struggles. Its premiere season at Brisbane Powerhouse from July 23 – August 1 comes with high advance acclaim. Endorsed by organisations such as the One Punch Can Kill campaign and with support from industry experts such as former Detective Brett Lee and psychologist Susan De Campo, the show promises to open up and engage young people in particular about issues related to youth violence and online behaviours.
Harper’s authentic ability to tell the story promises to be brought to life by a cast of largely youthful actors ready to breathe life into the script and bring the contemporary, convergent play’s important message to life, that choice and change are possible. It was a theme that resonated throughout the project’s launch, including in a wonderful mash-up performance of ‘Worlds like Potential’ from “Slammed” and “Corner of the Sky’ from “Pippin” by Harper and Director John Peek.
Youth is a reflection of its surroundings and it is an unfortunate fact of modern life that bullying is dangerously rife and mental health issues touch many lives. Any artform that can proactively bring action against and engage discussion about youth violence and dangerous online behaviours has to be heralded. And with those who have lead study of the text in an education setting lauding it as ‘a new, more modern Blackrock’, “Slammed” certainly promises to empower youth as they navigate a world of confusion, through its powerful narrative strategically embedded with contemporary slam poetry and even a little bit of Shakespeare. Beyond a youth audience, however, this significant piece of new Australian theatre offers something for everyone willing to engage in art as a vehicle for social change.