Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa is a first generation Australian Sikh spoken word artist, educator, performer & human rights reformer.
Sukhjit is passionate about diversity and the importance of visibility in the performing arts and inherently merges her advocacy background with the arts. Her work predominantly provokes conversations around Australian identity, feminism, cultural confusions, and the power of uncomfortable conversations.
Within a short period, Sukhjit has gone from performing at the Opera House for the Australian Poetry Slam Competition in 2014 to performing on national television for Australia’s Got Talent, and most recently she was a speaker at TedxUWA. She has shared the stage with renowned artists such as Missy Higgins and L-FRESH the Lion and her performances and workshops have led her to tour USA, Canada, UK and South East Asia, as well as across our very own nation.
Sukhjit is currently co-commissioned to write and perform ‘Fully Sikh’ with Barking Gecko Theatre Company and Black Swan State Theatre Company in Western Australia for their 2019 season.
Tell us about yourself, your background and what you do currently
I’m a watermelon lover, over sharer, loud laugher, spoken word poet, playwright, and performer.
Tell us about any current projects or initiatives you wish to promote
After living in Melbourne for over three years, I’ve come back to my hometown Perth and really sinking my teeth into some skills development opportunities that have come up.
I’m currently finishing up my spoken word narrative script for Fully Sikh, my first theatre debut based on my adolescence.
I’m super nervous to share this vulnerable work with Perth in October and then hopefully it’ll be touring around the nation (and the world – wink wink).
I’m also dipping my toes into screenwriting and hopefully publishing a book in the next couple of years. I’ve never really thought of my words as readable but rather to be heard and experienced. I use a lot of character work and tableaux so I always find it hard to write for the page. However, keeping that in mind I’m working on a picture book that will hopefully be readable as well as heard and experienced.
For the last four years I’ve been on a whirlwind of adventures, performing in every state in Australia, touring America, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, the UK with my soap box. Most of these spoken word gigs have been with a mix of workshops for youth (and sometimes Sikh parents lol) which is where the real magic happens. My fav workshop was with a group of over 90 teenage Sikh boys. The energy, the transformation, vulnerability on both ends was pretty epic!
The more I face my fears, the more resilient I’m getting and becoming an effective communicator even in my personal life.
My favourite performances have been:
- my first poetry performance was at The Bird in Perth where I accidentally entered the Australian Poetry Slam which led me to perform with some epic peeps at the Sydney Opera House
- standing tall and performing poetry at Speakers Corner, Hyde Park, London (probably the hardest gig I’ve ever done as I was trying to yell over the religious hate speech of older men)
- being the opening act for Missy Higgins at Hamer Hall, Arts Centre, Melbourne (she’s a beloved Australian singer)
What does the future hold for you?
I hope I continue to grow and evolve into the artist I’m meant to become by being challenged every day.
I hope I stay humble, speak my mind, become more and more free to express what feels natural to me.
I hope my audiences stay connected.
Whether it’s four-year-old “performance art”, spoken word, screen writing, or publishing my thoughts, I hope I stay true to Sukhjit.