Last Tuesday, I was invited by a friend to attend an open mic at 6pm in Williamsburg at Over the Eight. I had never been to an open mic before and thought it would be nice to hear different artists from the New York scene.
First off, the space is really nice. The bar is very laid back, with a great atmosphere. Another room at the back is where the open mic took place. It is separated from the main bar and has a stage, cozy seats and plasma TVs to allow filmmakers to broadcast their work. The bar makes great Mexican food and we were provided with free samples of empanadas. As I said, the atmosphere is really relaxed and I loved that ! We were told not to hesitate to move during the performances, either to get a drink, take a bathroom break or just get another empanada.
The different artists were very different from one another and presented all excellent work. I was seriously shocked by the quality of each artist’s work. In an hour and a half, came on stage a singer/songwriter, a poet, a stand up perfomer, a writer, a filmmaker and actors to play a scene from a playwright. All of these people were extremely talented, which I was not expecting ( I though maybe one or two will be really good but no- all of them !).
After the open mic, everyone could meet at the bar and mingle, chat, talk about different opportunities, or even get into deeper conversation about the state of the arts in the US today.
I decided to interview Michael Herman, who is behind the organization of these events and here is what he had to say :
Nina Moritz: Could you tell me a bit more about the project?
Michael Herman: So the non-profit company I founded 6 years ago, The Outer Loop Theater Experience, presents a super cool event called Talk Hard, which is a monthly open mic/showcase format opportunity for playwrights, actors, directors, poets, musicians, singers, djs, painters, writers, dancers, spoken word and hip hop artists, to get a peek at any new piece they're working on.... in front of a supportive, but critical audience. If they want some feedback? Great. And if they just want to hear it out loud in front of other humans? Great.
Nina Moritz: How often do you organize events?
Michael Herman: Talk Hard happens twice every month: The final Monday of each month, in Harlem, at Solace. And the 2nd Tuesday of each month in Brooklyn, at Over the Eight. And we’re looking at adding a 3rd one in midtown very soon.
Nina Moritz: What is the idea behind it?
Michael Herman: The Outer Loop is fundamentally a playground where we all come together to better our community and support the work of all playful human beings. So Talk Hard is one of these playgrounds for artists of all disciplines to come and play. I also like to think of it as a safe place to fail. We, as artists, need that.
Nina Moritz: Can any kind of artist attend (designers, producers etc..)?
Michael Herman: Absolutely. Any artist at all. And for that matter, any human. We welcome anyone who wants to share their experience(s) with others.
Nina Moritz: Tell me a bit more about you and what you do.
Michael Herman: I am a director, playwright and teacher. I founded The Outer Loop in 2009 to help playwrights and other artists develop their work and get it up in front of audiences. Nothing brings me greater joy, than to watch a new play come to life, and a young artist have that first audience experience. It’s why we do what we do. For the moment.
I had an amazing time attending, I felt like being part of something, seeing talent emerge before my eyes and I’m pretty sure a lot of the people I saw will blow up in the coming years. Everyone was welcoming and supportive of each other, clapping loudly, encouraging each other. It was so easy to talk to everyone. If
you have some work you are unsure about and would like feedback, this is the place! If you are looking for a great time and a great show, this is the place!
Seriously, please go and check it out, you will not regret it!
Here's some additional information from their website: http://www.outerlooptheater.org/