Roc Bottom Poetry Slam, presented by RAPA at School of the Arts' Ensemble Theatre, was an absolute marvel. The show included 10 performers, in solo, duo, trio, and quartet sets, speaking poetic, personal and universal truths with bold and emotional cadence.
Ranging from ranting to rapping or speaking softly to singing, and all of that beautifully overlapping, the men and women inspired the audience by spinning imagery of crucial creative birth. There was a beautiful breathless tribute to motherhood as teaching without a textbook; a piece about of the enduring struggle to overcome a rough childhood on the streets; and words about becoming a father without bearings for what that role is.
Men unabashedly spoke of their struggles with body image and performed a funny sales pitch for "the nice guy" that descended into a sneer at abusive male partners. A man with the smokiest croon provided a dose of his harsh reality for anyone who might judge his circumstances. A duo explored politics vs distractions "brainwashing them into the apocalypse ... the true walking dead."
One young man explained trying to come back from the worst corners of a relationship and two women rapped about the terror and confusion of breaking from a physically abusive, jealous man. In another bit, another man addresses a nameless partner about her use of an encounter that she used to fill her voids -- "I'm doing this out of love, you're just doing this out of pain."
Among the most powerful sets was a man with God genes, a curbside prophet drunk on truth, spouting off about systemic sabotage -- "Jesus does NOT cradle Neptune in his eyes" and "Public enemy Capital One / what's in YOUR wallet?"
A man spoke of marrying a single mother of two girls and his efforts to "show not all men are worthless," "so there can be more than one woman on the Forbes list." The last set was a raging, searching soliloquy about not "settling to carve your truth from the empty body of the universe," practicing your perhaps senseless art and taking "solace in its strange resonance." The speech railed against putting people in boxes. "This stage is not about saving my life," he says, "it is about crucifying my demons."
I highly, highly recommend giving this group a listen. And if you still don't understand what the Black Lives Matter activists are about, definitely see the Roc Bottom group perform, and try to keep up.
Roc Bottom Poetry Slam" will not be performed again during this year's Fringe.