At the New & Improved reading, we like to say that we are encouraging cross-genre collaboration and thinking, not just between poets, but among all kinds of self-directed performance artists. Last night, our wish came true in a beautiful way as storytellers, poets, prose writers, comedians, and who-knows-who-else congregated around workshop leader Michael Mack. Michael led a fabulous discussion about the ideas and goals of storytelling and the role of the writer and the characters in a piece of performance art. Awesome!
We followed up a successful workshop with a packed open mic; for the first time ever, we had to turn folks away when we filled up the list! Special thanks to Michael Monroe and Jamei Bauer, who did the hard work of hosting and made sure to welcome all our first-timers, even those who might have to wait until next week to get on the list.
Our double-feature was also one to remember. The first set came from April Ranger, who brought a winding and powerful set of all almost-new poems, closing with the debut of a dramatic monologue that was backed by surprise musical guest Jeff Robinson, our friend from the Lizard Lounge poetry slam! Jeff’s saxophone strung together April’s words and carried the story to a dramatic finish… And once April left the stage, Jeff soldiered on, improvising a heart-wrenching tune that bled from a series of wild, unleashable bleats to smooth and melodic sweetness. It was the kind of moment this reading was made for, and made for an unforgettable centerpiece of the night for our listeners.
Our closing reader for the evening was storyteller Michael Mack, who prepared a series of poems, stories, monologues, and perhaps a host of other definitions that all fit exactly within the realm of writer/performer/artist discussed in the workshop. A consummate professional, Michael was totally unruffled when the impromptu Baltimore punk band downstairs started up halfway through his set; with a skill and flexibility the performers in the audience couldn’t help but envy, Michael flipped his set around to actually incorporate the rebellious, destructive vibe of the music and elevated the night to a whole new level. It’s not exactly what we meant by cross-genre collab (and, by the way, Radio has assured us that this kind of double-scheduling won’t happen again), but it was another amazing moment in an overall great show. We’re so glad to have shared all of this with some amazing first-time visitors.
Next week: to celebrate the first Monday of the month (practically July 4!) we’ll be kicking it with the Presidential Smackdown Slam. New & Improved host Michael Monroe will start us off with a prompt-based writing workshop before a lickety-split-quick open mic. Then, all the way from Jamaica Plain, The Woodrow Wilsons will get our presidential-themed night started with a musical interlude… After which the headline event will take the stage: a 12-person head-to-head series of poems in some of your favorite characters from American history. Join host Kevin Spak as he invites Meaghan Ford, Marshall Gillson, Christian Drake, Zeke Russell, and a host of other ragtag characters in this holiday-themed event. Whoohoo!