Refleks is a slam poetry and story telling workshop that meets once a week in SARTR the Sarajevo War Theatre. The group was begun by Fatimah Asghar in 2011 and continued with Kirsten Mackie who aims to incorporate the group into BAM cultural projects.
On Thursday 7th June 2012 Refleks put on their first performance in the War Theatre. There was a wonderful turn out for the show with TV and radio coverage that was unexpected and thrilling for the, mostly, first time performers.
The audience were instrumental in how well the show went, their warm support was key to making our poets feel comfortable on the stage, and due to this they were able to give their best, which was in turn received by the crowd. The real exchange between performer and spectator is one of the most important things in performance poetry and it was a delight to feel the electricity conducted by this novel experience in Sarajevo, where poetry exists organically but is kept close to the heart and not performed in the manner in which we did. Because of this it was fantastic to see the performers in our group, who, when they arrived to the first workshops were too shy even to read their work aloud to the group, standing on the bare stage in SARTR projecting into the audience work that they created. There was a lot of tension and nerves were running high before the show and backstage during the performance. Yet as the poets stepped out onto the stage it was as if their fears left them and the words spoke for themselves, taking the performer to a place in themselves where inhibitions were lost and a confidence was found. It was really beautiful to see. And it was beautiful to find the audience waiting for us when the show was done and we moved down from the stage. It was clear that they had been touched by what we had done. Many joined us after the performance to drink and celebrate, some even said that they would join the Refleks group and share their own work.
We met again on Saturday 9th at Boris Galerija Smoja to host an open mic night. This is also something new for the city and it was received with excitement and open minds. More casual than the performance on Thursday we sat around the café in a circle and welcomed performers into the center to give their piece, this time there was no running order and people could jump in at any time when they wanted to contribute something. It was nice to see that people out with the group were eager to join in and there was music and song added to the poetry.
The Refleks workshop will continue to meet every week, perhaps with some new additions. More performances are to come up before the end of June and after, we hope to make open mic nights like the one in Smoja a more regular event in Sarajevo and judging from the successes of these two performances we can be more than optimistic that this will be a welcomed contribution to the city’s cultural activity.