On Saturday 7 March I was lucky enough to take to the stage at the ISRA Youth Talent Smash, a showcase of just a small section of the creative and artistic talent within the Sydney Muslim community.
As a performer on the night, I was excited to see the turnout from our community and was pleasantly surprised to see the Bryan Brown Theatre at almost full capacity. Families, students and parents all turned up to see talent from within our community put on a show for the night. Guest ‘judges’ for the night were the social activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied, comedian Khaled Khalafalla and author Amal Awad, themselves huge powerhouses of creativity and talent.
What was most striking about the line-up ISRA had put together was its diversity. Everything from spoken word poetry to visual art to cooking was on display. Another striking feature was just how young many of the participants were, with the youngest performer a mere thirteen years old. This same participant ended up winning the prize for the most inspirational performance on the night, giving us something to look forward to in the years to come. 19 year old singer-songwriter Yusuf won the crowd over with his edgy beats and swagger, while 18 year old Deepa Alam showcased a short film which demonstrated the intersection of youthfulness and tradition so many Muslim kids occupy.
The importance of events like this, aimed at showcasing talent from within the Muslim community, cannot be overstated. Having space for internal conversations is a luxury so rarely afforded to us. Having the emphasis on fun and entertainment rather than political issues is also a luxury rarely afforded to us. The Youth Talent Smash provided a safe space for young people to set their own narrative and tell their own stories rather than having their stories told for them. I can only hope that events like this continue to give an even more diverse and wide range of young Muslims a space, voice and an opportunity to laugh at their own unique foibles.
For more photos of the event, please check out the ISRA Facebook page.