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Revival: Open mic poetry night encourages informal creativity

On Thursday night Chum’s Coffee House marked the first open mic night of the semester, co-hosted, sponsored and run by two organizations, Revival and the Brandeis Pluralism Alliance. The event left every trace of rainy, cold weather outside, as performers and audience alike filled the venue with warmth. Per Chums usual style, students slowly filtered into the room until couches were claimed and backpacks were dropped to the floor.

The event began with a few announcements by Revival organizers Alona Weimer ’18 and Clayre Benzadon ’17, cluing in those new to open mic nights at Brandeis with its strong legacy of empowering student leaders. Setting the tone for a casual night of low-pressure performances, but attending to the formalities of the event, the two led promptly began the open mic night. Benzadon then began with a poetry recitation, leading the student performances for the remainder of the evening.

Students opted for varying performance styles including poetry recitations, music performances and a blend of styles. During and between performers, the room remained silent, the audience intrigued by fellow students’ material. Variety was also reflected in seriousness and content of the material and in the level of practice of performers. Some appeared relatively new to the stage while others appeared to be well-seasoned performers. Each individual on stage referenced earlier performers’ work in some way, or altered their collection of pieces to reflect the audience’s preferences or a common theme of the night. In this way, the works were truly collaborative and intertwined.

As advertised to students on social media, their goal is to “bring students together through the power of spoken word, poetry, song and any other form of expression you’d like to watch or participate in.” Revival brings together a group of artistic and mindful students, striving to put students on stage and encourage a variety of performance styles. The event attracts many talented students in varying modes of artistic production. This student-led, student-run event evoked sentiments of plurality in myriad ways. Throughout the evening, Revival exhibited artists masterful and polished in their talents, kind and courteous in their demeanor, and innovative, reading lines off their iPhones or tablets in a truly 21st century fashion; such an experience is only provided when a young generation masters talents, and guides a community towards diversity and plurality.

Revival was founded by a former Brandeis student, Rohan Narayanan ’15, who sought to establish poetry nights and other performances styles as a regular practice. Later, Revival has evolved from these efforts to create performance nights and collaborate with Brandeis Pluralism Alliance, an organization that supports and provides funding for projects that create opportunities and alliances between and among different campus groups and individuals.

Behind the scenes, Revival works hard to create a space for pluralism, communication and unification at Brandeis. The event is entirely dependent on student efforts to work with the Brandeis Pluralism Alliance in funding and organizing, collaborating to establish a performance space in Chum’s, and advertizing and organizing the recruitment of both performers and audience. Despite the large efforts involved, Revival finds its reward in the large turnout of students to watch the performance, and generally the inflow of support and excitement for future performances. Amid the technical aspects of arranging such an event, Revival members write poetry and prepare for their own performances, hoping to keep up their inspiration and their own artistic efforts.

In order to perform, students sign up on a first-come, first-serve basis. At the end of the performance, audience members are encouraged to perform. Clayre Benzadon sees this time as “a low pressure time for people who were too scared to sign up and who becomes inspired later on in the performance.” Benzadon has been an integral collaborator to Revival and has carried along the legacy of open mic nights through to this semester. In addition to her work with Revival, she is a leader in various literary publications on campus, and a Creative Writing major. “[My] goals for future performances would be to get more collaboration of music and poetry, and maybe more music and dance performances. We hope to impact the Brandeis community by creating a safe space for expressions of all types,” says Benzadon.

Through an eclectic array of student performances, Brandeis’ diverse community shines on the Chum’s stage. Despite the cold and rain, the event gathered together many Brandeis peers to celebrate each other’s talents in a gracious and warm environment. Last night marked only the first of several open mic nights set to occur throughout the semester.

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