Discourse / Letters / May 18, 2011

Letter to the Editor: Sam Conrad’s Response to ‘Last Off Knox open mic of the year takes a bow’

I am writing in regards to the spiteful review of the last Off Knox of the year from the May 12 issue of The Knox Student. While I understand that not every review of everything is going to be glowing, I fear the author of the review fails to understand the spirit of Off Knox and the type of venue it provides students.

First, I would be interested to know what the author categorizes as “mingl[ing].” Are the people sitting at the bar talking to each other not mingling? Is the chatter between acts and the camaraderie shown through cheers and applause and congratulations after each act not reminiscent of mingling? Perhaps by “not mingling” you mean that no one would speak to you because you were too busy sitting there, notepad in palm, looking dour and surly, determined to not enjoy yourself. It seems you would be the main attraction of a “circa 2006 Portland, Ore. coffee shop where the clientele has decided that actually enjoying things is just too passé to be tolerated[.]”

Have you, author, ever learned something new? Have you, author, ever braved the stage to attempt a work in progress for fun and for experience? Or even to attempt something polished? Judging by the malice you feel towards those of us that have, I venture to say no, you have not. And that’s fine—some people live in fear their entire lives, and who am I to judge?

But the spirit of Off Knox is not the same as a Main Stage theater show. We, the performers, don’t perform to be perfect. We do it for the love of performing (as I am sure actors in said Main Stage shows do), of mingling with our fellow artists and of letting off some steam after a grueling Knox week. If loving a song, a poem, a story or a thought so much that one feels the need to share it with an audience—and to make it their own—makes one a “moaning” “hipster,” then dammit, surround me with hipsters and not gloomy reviewers who refuse to embrace the lively energy of a room full of artists and friends.

Your article, though it remains an unremarkable paean (I don’t even know what that word means) to journalism, does contain some gems. You are right about Sam, Jun and Marnie—they were all spectacular and worthy of your praise; but the rest of the performers, regardless of skill level or enthusiasm, are just as worthy of our praise. It takes something to get up on stage and open yourself to up to critique, which, admittedly, they have done for you. You do reserve the right to write a critical review, but it would be helpful if you knew what you were reviewing.

Sam Conrad

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