The Ronj hosted the second Open Mic of the year on Saturday, November 16, opening up the stage to Bates students from all walks of life for an hour and a half of music and poetry.
The Open Mic, organized by junior Barbara VanDerburgh, as the name suggests, had no requirements for participation and even included impromptu performers who only decided on performing after arriving at the event itself. For the most part, the night can be broken down into two categories: recited poetry and musical performances.
“It fills me with such excitement and wonder to see who turns up and comes out to these open mic events to wow us with their talents,” VanDerburgh said. “Even though not everybody is pursuing the arts via classes or majors, most Batesies seem to have some kind of secret artistic inclination, and I think the open mics provide a safe, kind, and interesting environment for those people who might be too nervous to perform elsewhere. It kicks weekend nights into a really positive gear.”
Early into the night, first-year Amar Ojha delivered the first poem, an original piece about his Halloween night as a drag queen. First-year Sarmad Ishtiaq followed, reciting two separate pieces he’d written that year, the first concerning a very serious observation of the mother-child relationship and the latter poking fun at his pretentious Ivy League friend.
“My aim was to present two sides of the emotional spectrum. One was supposed to be happy, joyful, careless, reckless, and one side was supposed to be something sad, emotional. When combining these things you get the best of both worlds,” said Ishtiaq.
Throughout the night, numerous performers like first-year Jackson Whitehouse took the stage to play both their favorite and original songs on guitar. Whitehouse, who is also a member of ManOps, captured everyone’s attention in the first half of the night with his multitalented performance of Joe Pug’s “A Thousand Men” and “Long Black Veil,” as performed by The Band.
“I love playing guitar and singing, and I love to perform for people. [I chose to perform because] I hadn’t played for anyone in a while, and I have a few friends that wanted me to play at the Open Mic,” said Whitehouse. “The experience was good. The crowd was responsive and friendly, they weren’t distracting or disrespectful, and they gave a good aura that was conducive to comfortable, good performing.”
Senior Grace Glasson broke the pattern of guitars when her turn came around. Playing the ukulele, Glasson reinvigorated the crowd, paving the way for the final acts of the night.
As the night drew to a close, everything came together when sophomores Bridget Feldmann and Sacha Zabotin performed together, Zabotin on guitar and Feldmann singing. As they performed their second song, the audience suddenly sang along, bringing even more thrill and soul to the night.
Feldmann then kept the night alive as sophomore Julia Dunn joined her onstage to recite a co-written poem, in which they combined their own unique styles of writing and reciting to create a stunning spectacle to bring the night to an end.
The Open Mic itself appeared to be an unqualified success. The Ronj was filled with people within minutes of the Open Mic’s start, and people continued to pour inside, taking whatever few spots were left, throughout the entirety of the night, each separate act touching on different aspects of the human experience, whether it was comedy, songs about breakups, poems of self-reflection, or simply an inspirational talk.
Summing up the night after the event, Whitehouse said, “One may think that such a small school would not have such abundant talent, but that open mic was living proof that we may be small, but we are surely mighty. Time and time again I was blown away by the performers’ abilities to sing, jam out or evoke deep feeling in such a short periods of time.”
To look to the future, there are plans for a staff-only open mic next semester, alongside the other normally planned open mics at the Ronj.