When word gets out about an “open mic party,” many people tend to think of moody acoustic song performances or stand-up comedy sets. On Wednesday, however, Club Downunder showcased young authors and poets with their first-ever Open Mic Literary Night on Landis Green.
The metaphorical “doors” opened at 6 pm, when the performers introduced themselves and gave the titles of their pieces to the host of the evening. Audience members were treated to a free picnic blanket to sit a little more comfortably on the green, and spectators began to make themselves comfortable facing the makeshift stage in front of the Legacy Fountain.
The next hour, the emcee came on stage, welcomed everyone, and introduced the first performer. Aaron Farabaugh, a double major in acting and creative writing, took to the mic to perform his short story “Crossed Up.” The fictional story tells of a young man who entered a lookalike contest for himself – the inadvertent star of a viral TikTok video showing how he tripped and fell in a basketball game. This reading, inspired by Charlie Chaplain’s famous loss in a look-alike contest, put a modern spin on the well-known anecdote.
“I wrote a few drafts over the course of a month or two at a workshop last semester,” Farabaugh explained when asked about his writing. Farabaugh kept the audience laughing with him and set a lively tone for the rest of the evening.
After some short stories and an acoustic performance of a Rex Orange County song, a young author shared an original and haunting poem. “Stranger Waiting to Happen,” written and performed by André Heizer, told of petty ironies and missed corrections, as well as the discoloration of relationships over time.
“It comes from a feeling,” Heizer said. “A moment I had that made me reflect on my interactions with others…it was a completely individual and personal experience. While the moments in the poem were not personal moments that happened in my life, rather a hyperbole of how change affects people in life, it kind of happened when I had to say goodbye to the people in my life and come to terms with this change.
Heizer’s poem was undoubtedly one of the most serious of the evening, but also one of the most moving. He noted that his piece was something he had in his artistic repertoire for some time, stating “I wrote it a few months ago, and it took me two to three weeks to (physically) complete it. ‘to write.”
The night reached its climax with the final performance of the evening, a short story whose veracity the author continually insisted. This comic piece titled “The Cliff” was written and performed by Isaac Rowe. The short story posed and answered the question “can a group of people complete a full game of Clue by falling off a cliff?” Rowe concluded that it was possible, given that those who play do not fight over who will play as Colonel Mustard and that accusations are made quickly. Rowe again said his article was true after the show ended, saying that “”me and my friends were actually falling off a cliff, and we all survived. “”
His short story was written entirely in the space of 30 minutes – from the time he sat down at the open mic night to the time his name was called. The levity that her piece brought was a fantastic ending to the event and let audience members realize that the term “literature” can encompass so much more than books and novels.
This event would not have been possible without the efforts of its production team and the conceptualization of the event by Carly Mayzum. Mayzum, a junior psychology student and conference coordinator for Club Downunder, noticed the popularity of their comedic showcases and wanted to fill the gap in what she called the “more academic side of open-mic nights”.
To get involved with Club Downunder, or to see what events they are currently planning, check out their instagram report on the most recent information or apply for their volunteer interviews which take place each fall semester.