Crowded – spoken word and mental health drama

Crowded, an immersive new spoken word drama for teenagers and adults by children’s theatre specialists Half Moon Theatre and Apples and Snake, England’s leading spoken word poetry organisation, embarks on a nationwide 10 venue tour, from Wednesday 6 November to Friday 22 November 2019, premiering at Half Moon Theatre for ten performances.

Developed in direct response to the growing number of teenagers in the UK struggling with their mental health, Crowded tells the story of ordinary young people whose anxiety, depression and desire leads to harmful and destructive behaviours.

Giving voice to emotions that are often unspoken due to social stigma, Crowded is a powerful, funny and uncompromising story, presented in a striking, immersive spoken word style with the audience part of the action. It is written and performed by three inspiring poet performers: Desree, Laura Rae and Slam the Poet, with additional text by Rosemary Harris.

I caught up with Slam the Poet to find out more.

Why did you decide to write Crowded?

We wanted to tell a story of mental wellbeing that could give multiple, diverse perspectives simultaneously. So often stories are so single-minded! And can easily focus on tragic, clinical scenarios. We wanted a story that could more flexibly adapt itself to the very varying realities of people’s minds.

What does the medium of spoken word offer?

For me, a unique opportunity to explore the sonic qualities of words, their percussions and harmonies. Other artists have notes on a keyboard, and the performing poet has their words. I love manipulating language to make it expressive in more ways than dictionary definitions can contain

It’s an immersive show, with the audience as part of the action – what impact does this have?

Well, we haven’t started touring yet, so we’ll have to wait and see! But for me, that is part of the point. With an immersive show, the audience are there with you in the action, not 10m away in a dark seating area. The unique & changing nature of each performance will challenge us to give it freshly each time, and hopefully that will allow audience members to feel deeply involved in the stories.

The writing of Crowded was a collaborative effort – what was this process like?

Mostly, collaboration happened in plotting our narrative. We were given a lot of freedom over our characters and their individual paths, which we wrote quite independently of each other. Then there was lots of work with Rosemary Harris, our dramaturg and mentor, to help weave it together as a cohesive piece of theatre.

What do you hope audiences take away from the show?

I hope it does something to normalise the storms that can spark in our heads on a daily basis. Minds are unpredictable, childish and wild things! But we feel so much pressure to control them. Hopefully this will help people reflect on how they might do better by letting themselves feel what they feel, and not adding the extra stress of judging it as right or wrong.

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Published by Francesca Baker

Passionate about music, the world, exploring, literature and smiling. Writing, marketing and events for all my favourite things.

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