Freedom of expression, creating and sharing your thoughts and feelings in artistic form is an age-old tradition, and a basic human right. However, if tools and opportunities for expression are sparse, it isn’t always easy to showcase your potential and express yourselves to the public.
This is why spaces such as The Promenade Culture Centre (PCC) are vital to the community, as they serve as a safe and encouraging space for people to join or host workshops where self-expression is embraced.
On Thursday, April 14th, UAS’ high school students from Mr. Robert “Bobby” Lincoln’s English 10 class and Ms. Tess Bandalos’ Speech and Debate class took advantage of the opportunity to express themselves through spoken word at an exclusive event called SLAM, hosted by the PCC. When Marketing Manager Alyah Al-Jasser and PCC Manager Noor Al-Sadoun invited bazaar to witness this wonderful event, we jumped at the chance.
The center isn’t due to officially launch until the summer, but that didn’t stop the dynamic duo from accommodating this event to kick start the PCC’s calendar, showing us only one of the many types of events, workshops et al the PCC has in mind to host. Though the PCC’s resources are temporarily limited until their official Summer 2016 opening, a comfortable atmosphere was still provided by placing oversized pillows for the students to sit on, making the space reminiscent of a relaxed poetry hub. This environment only made it easier for them to stand before their fellow peers (and a small handful of guests) and recite the thoughts that they had been carefully constructing for two weeks prior to performance.
Maybe it was the ambiance, the inspiring nature of the PCC, or the students’ raw honesty and bravery that allowed them to speak so eloquently and with depth, but the whole experience was eye-opening and enlightened. The students were all so well written, and were able to express themselves in an intimate way. Few topics were shied away from, from self-esteem issues, to current events, to divorce and the general questioning of life. They laughed, they cried, embraced and cheered each other on while they supported themselves and their peers sharing their deepest thoughts, qualms and questions.
When talking to the students, the majority of them felt like a weight had been lifted off their shoulders, and it was clear to us that they had been stung by the adrenaline rush that comes with performing raw emotion. “We just want to express ourselves,” was the recurring response that many had, and it was clear that they seemed excited with having done so. “Being a teenager is like being a tightly wound ball,” said their teacher Mr. Bobby Lincoln, “so once they’re given the outlet, the floodgates come out. I’m proud of each and every one of them for putting themselves out there and being confident enough to express.”
Though not many seemed to be interested in pursuing a career in the artistic writing field, the value of self-expression through spoken word, slam poetry, writing and performance wasn’t lost on them. Student Zeina Jhaish embraced the opportunity of public self expression with a vehemence, boasting her love for the art of poetry, and how important this experience was to her: “I love writing, it’s my preferred art, and though I was a bit nervous because I haven’t performed this way before the experience opened the doors for my passion for poetry.”
The Promenade Culture Centre is meant to be a hub for Kuwait’s creative community, hoping to welcome all those who have been looking for a creative outlet. As Alyah Al-Jasser put it, “It’s a creative space, a dynamic space and an open space that welcomes all different types of arts from all walks of life, expats and locals alike!” It’s also a place that will host film screenings and exhibitions among creative workshops. So if you have the urge to express, create, teach or learn, be sure to take advantage of the PCC this summer.
The Promenade is located off the 3rd Ring Road opposite Qadsiya. The PCC is located on the second floor. For information about how to book a space or residency at The Promenade Cultural Centre, please call 2227 7130 or email [email protected] and [email protected] Follow the PCC on Instagram @promenadeculturecentre for updates.