An Urban Tragedy
“The Fight to Survive Begins”
Based on the successful stage play of the same name.
Frances-Anne Solomon’s Lockdown, traces the fortunes of a diverse group of young people held hostage during a high school lockdown. The high octane script picks apart the violence that threatens to undermine their dreams. Stars Jamaican icon Leonie Forbes and Toronto actor Michael Miller alongside an ensemble of talented young actors.
LOCKDOWN was developed through a collaborative improvisational process with a group of young people aged 12-18, and four adult mentors. The script was developed from research, discussion, personal storytelling, and improvisation.
LOCKDOWN was first produced as a play at the 2009 TORONTO FRINGE FESTIVAL.
Lockdown’s explosive fictional story focuses on a group of high school students in their final high school year, and picks apart the endemic school violence that threatens to undermine their dreams.
Kim is a fighter and a bully. She makes up the lead of a deadly trio of “girls” who terrorise the school – the fictional Bloorview Collegiate – while making a tidy living selling drugs and sex.
We open with a high school Lockdown. Panic and fear grip the students, as SWAT officers race through the class rooms, and sirens wail.
A student at a neighboring school has been shot and killed. The news shoots through the community via text messages and phone calls between students locked and isolated in their class rooms.
The event hits the headlines: ” Yet another high school Lockdown has gripped the city. The victim, 15 year-old Deshawn Wilkins was shot and killed outside his class….”
In the days following the shooting police officers patrol the school hallways. The young people comment: “Popo’s in the classroom to spy on us”
Our narrative begins on Mr Wright’s first day of teaching at the new school. He is an idealistic young teacher determined to make a difference.
It is also the first day for Vusani, a Bad boy, a hustler, who was kicked out of his last school AGAIN.
He comes up against the girl gang led by Kim, that dominate and terrorise the school.
Mr Wright tries to introduce progressive new teaching methods into the conventional curriculum. But his efforts are undermined not only by the Principal Miss Higgins who prefers to maintain the status quo, but also by the students themselves who are hardened and misguided.
The story hones in on Ben, a new immigrant from India, struggling to assimilate to the new confusing western invironment. He develops a misguided infatuation with one of the girl gang, Martina. During a routine Lockdown, he gets up the courage to talk to her and then to ask her out.
But when her “girls” find out about the proposed date, they plan a set up, in order to rob and then humiliate Ben.
Benturns to his one friend, Rafe, a young nerd who he plays chess with, for advice and support but Rafe, who has had first hand experience of being bullied by the girls, warns him against them.
Increasingly isolated Ben becomes obssessed, takes tranquilisers and stalks Martina. He seeks help and support from Vusani, and the battlelines are drawn, between Kim and her gang and Vusani and his.
Events spiral out of control, and each character is implicated in the finale tragic finale.
Two years ago, I began research on a project that would explore the inner worlds of young people in Toronto’s high schools, in light of all the media reports of escalating school violence in the city. RESEARCH
The “Falconer Report” commissioned by the Toronto District School Board, was the research backdrop of the story. It was commissioned after the death of Jordan Manners, a 15-year-old who in May 2007 became the first Toronto high school student to die by gunshot on school property, during school hours, in Canada.
The Report describes a school system in chaos and collapse. Falconer describes hundreds of cases of violence taking place in schools featuring guns, knives, theft, bullying, sexual violence and drugs. Criminal activity and incidents went unreported to Police, and to Parents as the school administration looked the other way.
Among the more horrific incidents uncovered by the Report, is the story of a young Moslem girl raped by six classmates in the school washroom. Following the publication of the Falconer report the Principal and Vice Principals of the school in question were arrested for Criminal Negligence, and are currently on trial.