By ANEESAH AKBAR
Arts & Entertainment Editor
Artivism Club returned with the second Open Mic Night of the year, Open Mic Night IX, on Friday, May 12. Artivism’s fusion of artistic expression and political activism leads to a variety of moving performances, such as slam poetry, comedy, dance and speeches. Last week’s show continued this tradition, including all of these elements and more to create an outstanding performance.
Artivism president Bethany Huang (Sr.) has been involved in the organization of Open Mic Nights since her sophomore year. She said, “Open Mic Night IX was special; members of Artivism ran it, making it a truly collaborative effort. When I first joined Artivism, it was uncertain if the club would continue. It’s incredible to see how far we’ve come from that, thanks to the people who stuck around to make this Open Mic possible.”
Amir Guity (Jr.) will be taking Huang’s place as president next year. He agreed, adding, “From all the Open Mic Nights I’ve been to, this one has had by far the largest audience, but we didn’t lose the intimacy and informality that makes Open Mic different from a regular talent show. The crowd was as positive and energetic as ever.”
As Guity acknowledged, the feel of Open Mic Night is what distinguishes it from general talent shows. Performers do not have to audition for a slot in the show, which contributes to the club’s open culture. Open Mic Night IX, for instance, included quite a few less traditional pieces such as a comedy sketch by Staseeya Kemp (Fr.), a speech by Collette Kelly (Jr.) and moving slam poetry pieces by Andrew Nguyen (Sr.) and Keza Kananura (Fr.).
Nguyen, who writes poetry for the Sword and Shield, performed an original poem called “Train of Thought” for his first Open Mic Night piece. He said, “I have always known our school to be a community of ambitious, passionate people, and Open Mic Night really was just another fine example of that notion. The poem is essentially about expressing yourself in any way that fits your passion, which is presumably the mission of Artivism as a whole. ”
All the performers were clearly enthusiastic, and treated the Open Mic stage as a safe place to be brave and even vulnerable. No matter whether performers forgot their lines or were completely on cue, they were consistently met with loudly supportive applause from the audience. I think this reaction spoke for the unique atmosphere of Open Mic Night more than anything else.
Over the past few years, Open Mic Night has garnered many repeating performers, including Borna Torabinejad (Sr.), who sings and plays the guitar. “Open Mic Night has improved every time I have performed, which is a great thing. Last week’s show was made even more special because it was my last one, and I actually performed an original piece for the first time,” Torabinejad said.
Last Friday’s show also included many newcomers to the Little Theater stage. Kasey Kim (Sr.), a singer who has taken part in most of UHS’s talent shows, is one such performer. “It was really great to have done by last solo performance at such an intimate venue with my close friends there. I have always loved that Open Mic welcomes a variety of talent and I think Artivism always does a good job with this event.”
To Huang, this show will be remembered as a bittersweet ending to her time involved in Artivism. “Open Mic Night unifies this really unique and talented group of people by allowing them to express themselves, and I’m going to miss the community we’ve created with it,” she said. “I think I’ll miss what Artivism is: a space for people to speak, discuss, create.”
As for the future of Artivism, Guity said, “I am looking to expand the club on all fronts. In addition to preserving our traditional Open Mic Night, I can see us doing fundraisers to help various causes.” Clearly, the club’s future board plans to continue the message which makes Artivism a distinct club on campus.