“The Venue” is an event that allows original artists to display their talents in a warm, non-competitive environment. It will feature 25 original artists,free coffee, baked goods for sale, and a fun place for friends to relax on a Saturday night at the Jean Browne Theatre on campus.
“The idea was an old-time … late 50’s early 60’s coffee houses (setting), and the type of thing where you can go and hang out and share your creative urges and share your creations … or whatever you want to do under a very … laid-back, relaxed, non-critical atmosphere,” said Theatre Professor Dr. David Crawford.
For those wanting a spot, the process is simple. Show up, sign up on the order list, and perform in the order of those who signed up first to last. The only rules are: no profanity, no feet on theatre seats, can’t bring amps or anything needing to be plugged in, only a five-minute time slot and performers must have valid TJC IDs.
“I’ve always been plagued with the idea of the ‘college kid on campus on the weekend’ (scenario),” Dr. Crawford said … “The Peanut cartoons where Joe Cool is leaning against the dorm and he said, ‘Joe Cool gets homesick on Sunday afternoons’ -that was the first cartoon that I had ever cried (about), because I knew exactly how he felt. Weekends at the dorm alone were always just terribly depressing to me.”
The Venue began several years ago as a dream that Dr. Crawford had to let raw, untouched art be displayed. It had a few years of great turnout, bringing in crowds of over 100 students. Now the theatre and speech group “Las Mascaras,” along with Dr. Crawford is getting the event set up again, in expectation that it will be an even better success than years past.
“(It was) really nerve-racking at first, like especially for my first performance, but it was really fun because you’re just a big group of friends hanging out, singing together or performing,” said Kimberly Powers, president of “Las Mascaras and former The Venue performer. Powers has played guitar, played piano and sung some of her original songs on past The Venue nights.
Although “Las Mascaras” members like to perform their original pieces, they want all students, with little or no experience, to show up and get involved, with no fear of being judged or critiqued.
“We’re all very … appreciative of the arts and the guts that it takes to get up on stage and do something, so, you know, we’re going to support you, no matter what,” Powers said. “Especially all the theatre kids, we all love each other and love new people, and it’s a very comforting atmosphere.”
Professor Jacob Davis who handles the promotion of “The Venue” expressed his open mic nightmare.
“One time when I was in college at Texas Tech … I went to an open mic night with some buddies. We were playing guitar and we did a cover song and the audience didn’t like it so much, and we were booed off the stage, and it was very uncomfortable. And that setting is not going to happen here,” said Davis
For anyone looking to gain experience, or have a place to express themselves, The Venue is available for that.
“I think that it’s a great opportunity … it’s something, whenever 10 years ago, when I was a student here, wasn’t an option, and it was something that I wish would’ve been an option … I think it’s a great opportunity for students because it’s a great, safe environment …” said Mr. Davis.
The Venue is set to take place on several Saturday nights: Oct. 26, Dec. 7, Feb. 8, April 12 at 9p.m.-11p.m at the Jean Browne Theatre.