Arts & Culture, Blog, Campus

First Open Mic Night Brings Music (and More) To The Outdoors

Spread across the lawn, between the gallery and auditorium, the majority of the school congregates for an out-door dinner and to support the first open mic of the year. As the day shifts into a typical warm summer night, social groups convene and gravitate towards the stage, as teachers and faculty create a border along the edge of the crowd. Nearly all of the seats are occupied, so a majority of students sit on the outskirts of the lawn, using the performances they are facing away from as background music to their conversations. The ones sitting at the set tables are more attentive, attempting to obtain quality recordings to add to their Snapchat story. Occasionally, a performance genuinely excites the masses, such as the rendition of “Puff the Magic Dragon,” which put everyone to the edge of their seats in adoration and complete delight to see the young girls return to the stage, with the accompaniment of Mr. Phillip. As the evening light softens and begins to harshly contrast with the stage lights, the view of the stage irregularly becomes spotted with silhouettes as students dash to and from the seated area and food source to quickly grab another bite without missing anything. The once large crowd exponentially diminishes over the hour, while the performers and their supportive friends stick around for the entirety of the show.

Open mic has been a series five years in the making, beginning with a vision Mr. Jimmy had, and continued by Ms. Nadine Cunningham for the last four years. As head of open mic, Ms. Nadine, “[accepts] any musical performance; instrumental, vocal, poetry, spoken word, dance, [or] standup comedy” but occasionally hosts never before seen (at King’s) performances. Ashraf Saleem was the first to introduce magic tricks, drawing in rapid audience engagement with, “Can I get a volunteer.” Since the start, the, “overall…goal and the structure of open mic has remained the same,” (Ms. Nadine) but the stage has moved to more public areas of the campus for easier viewing access, accommodating larger crowds, and friendly to passersby. Ever since treats have been served at open mic, the phrase, “wanna go to open mic?” is practically verbatim to, “wanna go get cookies?”. The sweet incentive took a further step with the addition of serving dinner at the performance site on Sunday; a convenience to regular viewers, yet a bait to lure in the entirety of the school body. Although, “[they] had a lot more people at the show,” (Ms. Nadine) the mood from the dining hall was replicated, and, “[it] was kind of annoying because people just came and talked” (Zayd Lahham). The lightened, talkative atmosphere did reel in more audience members, however it created audible distraction, making the viewing experience more difficult as it nearly silenced the quieter performers, such as Balqees Al-Shorman, who read original slam poetry, and Rayyan Atieh who played a musical piece. Future changes can be credited to co-leader, Zayd Lahham, who is constantly focused on improving the quality of open mic. Both leaders would love to increase the amount of shows performed yearly to include veterans; Hashim Khalayleh (spoken word), Elyana Konsol (rap), and Zhiwui Lin (dance), while expanding opportunities to unfamiliar faces, as they had with new student Cleopetra Al-Zoubi (piano).