The British-Egyptian author, poet, performer, and playwright Sabrina Mahfouz is coming to Slam Our World (SLOW) at the KVS.
One need only consult YouTube and Wikipedia to realise that Sabrina Mahfouz has not had much of a chance to be silent over the past few years. Her explicit word art draws on a high literary standard, a considerable vocabulary, and an attractive London accent. She has won numerous scholarships and prizes, and she is now also using her imagination and talent for spoken language in a variety of plays.
She usually focuses on themes like feminism, social injustice, and gender (in)equality, and due to her heritage she is also interested in the Arab world and issues related to migration. But more than anything, her texts bear witness to an enormous insightinto people and the world.
Open mic nights
"I studied politics and worked for the government because I thought that was how you could make a difference. And you can, but it is difficult, and you can spend your whole life trying to change one small aspect," Mahfouz says. "What I do now allows me to reach a lot more people. The welcoming open mic nights in London's poetry scene were important events for me in finding my voice. The supportive atmosphere there enabled me to see myself as a writer. That was about six years ago. At that time, there were about three or four open mic nights in London every week. Now there are three or four every night."
What makes poetry and spoken word so powerful and attractive then? "We live in a time where what politicians and the media say can be very worrying. Part of the popularity of poetry performance is the fact that people enjoy hearing somebody speak in a way that has truth at the heart of it – even if it is fiction."
A surreal touch
It is certainly not the case that Mahfouz's texts constantly inflict unadulterated opinions on her audiences. Her texts are cleverly written, with hidden meanings, rhetorical sophistication, and carefully thought-out narrative perspectives.
Mahfouz: "I write quite fast because I don't do too much editing. Even if a text is not perfect, I like to get it out there instead of keeping hold of it for a long time. But it is true that it is not just about expressing opinions. I always think carefully about what I am writing and I stick to some unwritten formal rules. I also tend to write more from the perspective of characters that I create. Taking inspiration from real people, but giving it a surreal touch. I find that more liberating than writing from my own perspective."
At SLOW, Mahfouz will share the stage with Belgian talent that she met through the KVS urban playwright Tunde Adefioye. After the performance on 25 November, there will be a debate about feminism. After the performance on 26 November, Zulu Nation Belgium is celebrating 33 years of hip-hop culture in Belgium with a party.
> SLOW #01: Sabrina Mahfouz. 25 & 26/11, 20.30, KVS BOX, Brussels