Flip the Script is the latest project of the Bankstown Poetry Slam (BPS) that opens up a stage for anyone under the age of 26, to perform their artistic practices through an open mic performance.
“With respect to young people, I think poetry is a great tool that can be used to help them address whatever it is that they need to address.” Sara Mansour, the co-founder of BPS, said in an interview with Create NSW.
According to Bilal Hafda, one of the committee members of BPS, young people of a diverse background and culture are typically spoken for, making it hard for their own voices to be heard.
“There should be an opportunity for young people to speak their mind on things that are already established… but they don’t have that opportunity because no one opens it up to them.” Hafda said.
Flip the Script came about through discussions by the BPS committee to have an open mic event for the younger generations who attend the slam but might be intimidated to perform, Hafda says.
“You also need a kind of sense of community that gives the opportunity to speak and who is an ear that will listen to you,” he said.
The performers can showcase their talents through many art forms such as poetry, music, storytelling, and stand-up comedy.
They also receive “on the spot feedback” from the hosts, and encouragement throughout and after their performances by the audience, Hafda says.
“We would open up that space for them and just get them to apply their art and… practising so that they would feel more confident to do that in the kind of wider range.” Hafda said.
The free event is held monthly at the Bankstown Arts Centre, and also offers these young people the ability to network, allowing them to meet new people with common interests, and to be a part of a community.
“People from our community feel that they have a safe space that they can regularly return to, to share their poetry, to vent, and to validate their lived experiences.” Mansour said in the interview with Create NSW.
There are a variety of themes in the performances, where the topics range from love to politics, from religion to sexuality, each portraying an important message the performers would like to be heard, according to the organisation.
“That whole general sense of it being this is something that I want to talk about and I’m going to write a piece and I’m going to perform,” Hafda said.
17-year-old Hannah Tulk, is a performer at Flip the Script, and says it is the only event she could find in her area that is “spot on” in targeting young people.
“They give young people a platform and a voice to tell other people what they think,” she said.
Inspired by other performers at Flip the Script, Tulk built up her courage over months of sitting in the audience, until one night she finally stepped foot on that stage herself.
“Poetry is a great way for people to express their emotions and their thoughts and I think that Flip the Script is just one the best places to do that,” she said.
She performed at the May Poetry Slam and came second in the top four performances of the night, placing her in the Grand Slam at the end of the year.
“I’m trying to tell people my experiences with mental illness and pain and suffering, as well as trying to be encouraging and helpful to others who have similar struggles,” she said.
The monthly Slam attracts two to three hundred people a night, whereas Flip the Script draws a much smaller crowd, fluctuating from 40 audience members to just three, but Tulk says it makes it feel more welcoming and “like a family”.
“They remember you, your name, your face and your poetry…” Tulk said.
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