With soggy feet from a swampy campus, Becca Starr ’13 makes her way to the stage in Lodge 1. She stands under the hot lights, ready to begin her poem. Something about this evening is relaxing — no pressure. There are only other students, other performers and the mic waiting for her to read.
“It is a lot of excitement to see people watching you and listening to you and knowing that for three minutes, them listening to you is the most important thing,” Starr said.
Starr performed a poem at International Performance Arts Exchange’s Leave it at the Mic Sept. 15 entitled “The Girl in the Sky.” Starr decided to perform after hearing about the event from friend and producing director of IPAX Jamar Jones ’13.
“I felt there should be a night for these talented people on our campus,” Jones said. “I know that there are talented poets, artists and musicians. I wanted there to be a very low-key place where people could come and just showcase their talents.”
Performances included musical ensembles, poetry readings, stand-up comedy and raps. There was no contest, competition or audition necessary to sign up.
“I think that it is really important around here because we get bogged down with a lot of school work and things,” Jones said. “Why not have one night where they could just come out and let them be an artist or performer?”
As producing director, Jones is in charge of putting together all major events for IPAX. Leave it at the Mic was their first event of the year, but they also put on plays once a semester. They will be performing “A Lesson Before Dying” from Nov. 4-6 this semester.
“We have done a couple of these Leave it at the Mic nights and we always have two plays a year,” Professor Francis Tanglao-Aguas said. “It is basically a performance theater arts company run by students.”
The group, founded by Tanglao-Aguas in 2007, is a faculty-student collaborative theater project. It gives students the opportunity to experience theater without requiring a major or minor.
“It allows students an avenue of art and expression, without necessarily taking a class or majoring in it — with the help of a faculty member guiding the process,” Tanglao-Aguas said. “In IPAX, I work with students in teaching them how to produce, how to direct, how to write, how to be self-sufficient and resourceful enough to put up their own production.”
Jones feels he is learning extensively about theater productions from experience as producing director of the Leave it at the Mic nights.
“It is a lot of responsibility but I feel like I am learning a lot of things,” Jones said. “I am learning how to promote an event, and I am learning how to just create something. I feel really good about how things have been turning out.”
Tanglao-Aguas created the project by combining it with the African American theater club and opening it up to all students.
“The whole purpose of IPAX is that we are dedicated to diversifying the arts,” Jones said. “We want to tell stories from different cultures, backgrounds, lifestyles and everything. That is our key mission: To let others know that there are different scales of people out there with stories that need to be told.”
While the play provides an opportunity for students interested in theater to be a part of a production, Leave it at the Mic is a more open forum for campus-wide talent to be showcased in a stress-free environment.
“The audience is a really great audience because the people who perform are also the people listening so there is a lot of mutual appreciation and respect for the way people play with words or with sound,” Starr said.
Jones sees the importance in these events in IPAX as one more opportunity for students to tell their stories.
“It doesn’t have to be such a large scale stage, and you know you could touch someone else’s life with that,” Jones said. “I think we need to continue that on because it is definitely educating. It is about continuing to inspire people.”