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Open Hearts, Open Mics

Kofenya still had a steady flow of coffee and caffeine-thirsty customers inside its calmly lit walls as the Walking Theatre Project began setting up for the night.

The organization held its first open mic night of the year on Thursday, Sept. 27. The bunch laughed as they struggled to set up their mic stand, while students trickled in and quickly snagged tables near the stage. Some were there to participate, others simply to watch. Even those who wandered in not knowing about the event were intrigued and stayed to watch.

"The goal of these open mic nights is to bring the community together through art, friendship and activism," said the club's vice president, Marjorie Trimble.

The Walking Theatre Project is a theatre-based social justice group. Their goal is to create a safe space to discuss delicate social issues and then bring them to the forefront through music, theatre and other performing arts. Last year, the group partnered with the Student Veterans Association to listen to stories of combat and PTSD, which they then turned into short plays.

Sam Adams was the first to step onto the checker-patterned platform serving as the group's stage. His sticker-plastered guitar case and smooth stride gave the impression that he had done this before. Sam sat down on a stool and faced his audience, all of whom were sitting front row in support. He threw his pin-covered guitar strap over his shoulder and began to strum and sing.

His voice was greeted with the cheers of the other club members and the captivated eyes of the rest of the crowd,

Madeline Mitchell, the club's president, hopped onstage and introduced Maia Aoibheil, who read five original poems. The first one titled, "Left Unsaid," resonated with the audience as their snaps sparked back at her in support.

"The next one is currently untitled," Maia said. She turned several pages on her heavily marked notebook, and began to read again.

One after another, pianists, storytellers and stand-up comedians took to the stage. If anyone seemed reluctant, the group would encourage them until they gave in with a wide smile on their face. Every time the stage was empty, Madeline would perform a Taylor Swift song in order to avoid any lulls in the night.

The club is hoping to perform with the Women's Center at the Clothesline Project this week. They will also have a staged reading at the end of this semester, and a cabaret the next.

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