by Sarah M. Chichester · May 21, 2014
Indie Artists on New Plays #95 Sarah M. Chichester looks at Slam Team part of Planet Connections Festivity As someone that both is currently an artist in Planet Connections for the 4th year in a row, and as someone who wrote lots of poetry in high school; seeing Gina Inzunza’s Slam Team was a production that was of high interest for me.
This intriguing hour long one-act centered around four high school teenagers. Most of them attending the first meeting of the school’s poetry club simply because one student, Lorna (played by Nicola McEldowney), had asked them to join so they could have a school team. Shortly after, they soon realize how affective their poetry can be to raise awareness in helping fellow club member Dario (Luis Restrepo).
The script itself is a mixed bag. Inzunza focused more on the poetry as written by the individual characters in the script than the intended plot, which gave it a very jarring feel. While we see the inciting moment of the intended plot early on, for the rest of the play, until the last 10-15 minutes, we only see the other characters perform poems they’ve written about their own lives, and other background information that has no relevance to the plot. I wish I had seen more of the process of them working together as opposed to extensive unrelated information through poetry. There was also information mentioned at the end explaining an alternative motive for starting the club, (perhaps a subplot) but there was nothing leading up to this. The characters, as written, tended to be more on the 2-dimensional side, more archetypes than well rounded characters.
The direction by Marcus Yi was also a bit of a mixed bag. While staged well overall, I felt it was occasionally over-staged. When a student performed a poem their character wrote, the other three performed tableau’s which distracted me from watching and listening to the sole performer.
The best part of this show by far is the cast. Luis Restrepo, Nick Imperato and Thanh Ta I found to be quite strong. They knew their characters quite well and they shone throughout the production, as their commitment and dedication radiated on stage. McEldowney’s portrayal of Lorna was a bit unclear to me (but this could also be because her character was the least developed in the writing).
I found the play to be really interesting and the concept of a play with poetry is wonderful; however I feel that this particular play would’ve benefitted a lot more as a staged reading to fill in the plot holes and develop characters further as opposed to a full production.