As the audience sat on playmats waiting for openSTAGE to begin, creator of openSTAGE Joey Firman, ’10, did a flip in the center of Studio Theatre and said, “The first thing I’d like to say is this is a body-friendly space, so use it.”
Firman’s spontaneity set the tone for openSTAGE this past Friday and Saturday: a place where performers have the freedom to move and do what they want. After Firman continued by saying that audience members could leave whenever they wanted except during a performance, freshmen Nathan Johlas and Hannah Black took over as the emcee’s for openSTAGE.
The first act of the night was freshman Alex Burik, who sang and played acoustic guitar. After Burik came Black, who read a two-part poem, which did not have a title. Demonstrating the freedom performers of openSTAGE were able to have with the space, Black asked for the lights to fade and then be brought up again before she read. Black’s poem exhibited desire, heartbreak and disappointment and she expressed these emotions in her voice and facial expressions.
Junior Isaac Miller performed a monologue of the character Don Juan from playwright Moliere’s “Don Juan,” which he prepared for his Intermediate Acting class. Miller had clear body language and dynamic facial expressions, standing in the appropriate form for the play’s time period and acting out gestures such as pulling out a sword and brandishing it. At the end of his performance, he asked for pointers from the audience.
Next was the Knox Improv Club with members freshmen Duncan Cochran, Jaime Ruml, Alli Diamond and Chloe Luetkemeyer, sophomores Lauren Bradley and Anna Goldbeck and juniors Casey Samoore, Skylar Arend and Mark Farrell. The highlights of their performance included a game called “Party Quirks,” in which host Arend had to guess the quirks of guests Luetkemeyer, Bradley and Goldbeck suggested by the audience. The “party” was hilarious, as Luetkemeyer played the part of someone trapped in a box by dragging her box along the ground and being oblivious to her surroundings. Goldbeck played the perfect paranoid, who thought people were trying to get into her head and read her thoughts and Bradley engaged in some physical—yet invisible—comedy as she tried to maneuver her phantom limb.
Freshmen Haley Beeson and Jillian Somera performed an acoustic version of “Toxic” by Britney Spears with the audience participating by singing the words as well as the sound effects of the song.
Firman himself did a performance called “Untitled for Halloween.” Dressed in off-white pantyhose on his head, arms and legs with soft piano music playing in the background, Firman began near the back of the stage, shivering and seizing on the ground. He clawed at the floor while making choking sounds. The audience waited in anticipation for what he would do next as he inched closer toward the front row. With the spotlight still on him, Firman slowly crawled into the audience –some people moved out of the way and others seemingly froze out of bewilderment. Firman shook and quivered very close to audience members, kicking up dust into the spotlight.
Before the next act, Firman asked for the audience to stand up and walk in a big circle as music played. Their momentum picked up as they then ran in the circle and danced as a smaller second circle revolved in the middle.
After this, sophomore Allison Levine did an a capella version of “Infinite” by Eminem. Levine said that Eminem was an artist who was influential in her life during middle school. Levine expertly recited lyrics from “Infinite” with many different rhymes and tongue twisters.
At the end of the night, the audience members participated in a collaborative painting.
“I was really happy with how it went,” Firman said, “I liked the variety of acts. I thought the handful of performances that I was in went really well. The energy at the end was really exciting. The last openSTAGE had a really similar end but the collaborate painting was really new this time and it worked really well.”