Every Friday night, participants’ drop their guards and inhibitions in a celebration of the arts. Dimly lit with faint aroma of incense floating in the air, SPEAK! offers a relaxed and homey atmosphere to its performers and audience members.
SPEAK! exhibits a unique range of performances varying from poetry, music, visual arts, comedy, and even dance, all practicing the lounge’s namesake.
“From the audience’s perspective, we’ve been able to pull from different groups that you wouldn’t normally see in one room, at one time,” says SPEAK! host Robert Lee.
Like the performers, the audience is encouraged to contribute. Throughout the night, Lee reads aloud the audience’s feedback via text messages, creating a light and casual mood within the room.
A variance of experience and ages are welcomed up on stage. Younger crowds are encouraged to participate like local teenage artist, Reggie Baril, 17, who frequents SPEAK! Under his stage name ToBy.
“The audience was supportive. I was a little nervous at first but I forgot all about it when I was on stage,” says ToBy.
Yet, because SPEAK! does not enforce a set age limit, the content may get a little racy at times, so a certain level of maturity and respect is expected from the audience. After all, the purpose of SPEAK! is to offer both performers and audience the equal opportunity to express themselves without judgement.
“It’s cool how everyone is able to speak their mind. SPEAK! was a cool experience”, says senior Jake Radell.
SPEAK! fosters a single motto: “No egos, just expression.” It provides a platform for creative individuals to come together and form an open, accepting community, as well as a unique and unforgettable experience.