Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa shot to fame in Australia and around the world with her poetry on Australia’s Got Talent. But before she went viral, Sukhjit was a brown, hairy Sikh girl growing up in the suburbs of Perth. Fully Sikh is her story.
I am a spoken word artist who has transitioned into a theatre-maker. It’s been such a transformative experience these last couple of years and I have creative developments to thank for that. I still remember my first creative development for Fully Sikh in April 2018. I had no idea what to expect. I was so used to working as a solo artist, touring the world with a suitcase full of three to five minute poems. All performed as stand-alone pieces. How was I going to bring this artform into a 75 minute show?
The creative developments quickly alleviated my reservations about moving into theatre. When I entered the room, I realised the development process was there to support me, inspire my writing and was an opportunity to play! A week-long adventure to explore the work in the stage it’s in. In the back rooms of the State Theatre Centre, we infused the walls with Mum’s recipe for daal and roti. We circulated the halls with an array of musical instruments. My mind has been buzzing after each creative development showing: itching to write the next draft.
With each creative development, the team has grown – introducing a new element to the Fully Sikh family/creative process. The first development involved Matt Edgerton (Director), Pavan (Composer & Musician), and a range of actors. I did lots of show and tell from my childhood, shared stories of growing up in Leeming and brought my mum in to experiment with some cooking! We created a rough structure of what we thought the show was going to be about and what characters were important to tell this story.
The second creative development focused on Pavan’s music and what he needed from us to do his magic on stage. The next creative development involved us looking at the script in its fourth draft and giving it a thorough edit. Matt and I got to work on characterisation and Clare Watson (Black Swan’s Artistic Director) came in to give us some of her dramaturgical gems. Our last development focused on the aesthetic feel of the show. We worked with Isla Shaw (Set & Costume Designer) and Tim Collins (Sound Operator). Isla’s set design was explored and blocking of the space. As the performer, I got a feel for what props felt right, and what cultural elements needed some more TLC. It was wonderful to see Tim and Pavan work together experimenting with sound.
With each showing, we’ve invited different members of the community. This is to see how the poetry and the delicate issues we touch on are received by the audience. Now we are all off doing our “homework” and will come together again for rehearsals in September. I’m so privileged to work with such an exceptional team of skilled arts practitioners. Thank you for holding this space for my story, my family, and my community.
Come see us at the State Theatre Centre in October!
Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa
Pictured: Emboidery trim from India, costume build by Wardrobe Manager Lynn Ferguson. Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa by Richard Jefferson.