CHENNAI: Gone are the days when opportunities were limited to find a platform and show people what you’ve got! Today, with open mic sessions catching up big time in the city, aspiring artists consider it the perfect space to explore themselves and reach out.
Experiencing one such night, City Express walked into the ‘Bay of Life Under the Moonlight’, a poetry session at Thiruvanmiyur beach. The stage was open. The mic was tested, and the audience was all geared up to be entertained. The first performer looked nervous. Perhaps, it was his first time and he did not want to fail. Once he began, the applause removed his fear.
If you think open mics call out only to musicians, you are wrong. It includes original stand- up comedy, storytelling, poetry and mime.
Sudarsan Ramamurthy, who organises stand-up comedy shows under the banner ‘Chennai comedy’, one of the oldest open mics in the city says, “Today, there are more than 20 stand-up artists in the city and whether they are seniors or new comers, open mics creates a democratic space where we learn from each other,” he says.
Another troupe, ‘Bay of Life’, is a group of poets, usually teenagers, who get together once in a couple of months. “On a day-to-day basis we usually stay indoors which to an extent limits our imagination. But during our real open mic sessions, it provides us with an opportunity where we can relate with the environment,” said Madhumathi Ravi, co-founder of Bay of Life.
Indu Divya, founder and lead storyteller at ‘The Narrative’ says that open mic scenes in the city has suddenly exploded, and the change in mentality towards the craft is both welcoming and encouraging. “There have been times when amateurs have faltered on stage yet the audience have been supportive. Besides this, it is a platform where there’s no one to judge your performance so you can always stay in your comfort zone,’ says Indu who enrolled herself for a psychology course to cope up with the lows in life. That moment empowered her to start open mic storytelling sessions, where people can come and share their personal stories.
Talking to another performer, Prashanth, a writer and actor considers open mic poetry sessions an off beat stream for a writer. “These days, I hardly find any column in newspapers which is exclusive to poems. This limits us in expressing our passion. Here, open mics come into picture where we get to interact directly with poets,” he says.