Published: 06th November 2017
College trio from Kochi throw open the doors for performing artists and the city's young through their open mics
Arbor Vitaè's ambience and environment has been carefully put together and has received enormous positivity from Kochi's youngsters
Anyone hoping to take their first step as a performing artist knows that the best place to start is at open mic gigs. They are a great avenue for new and upcoming artists within any field of performing art, to try out their new material. Usually, even the audience consists of amateur performers supporting the artist on stage and putting their own art under the spotlight.
While Kochi has seen open mic events in the past two years, the community of artists in the city was yet to band together. Moreover, it seemed as if performers were hesitant to get on stage since they couldn’t see a large crowd backing them up. But in August, the performance scene in town shook up a little. Three college students, Athira Niranjana Suresh, Appu Raveendranath and Hashir Jaleel had the spontaneous idea of building a stage for performance artists, thus breathing life into Arbor Vitaè.
Initially, the team had difficulty conveying what an open mic was. But by their second open mic in October, the trio found that more people had adapted to the unique style of performance. The open mic scene was growing larger as other individuals started to organise small open mic nights to celebrate artists in their own way.
Arbor Vitaè found support from Showtime Kochi, a community in the city that holds street jam sessions. Beatboxing, spoken poetry and music are a few of the newer formats that have been featured on their stage, besides the jazzy tunes of Adele and the folk sounds of Leonard Cohen.
Open mic events are usually free of charge or charge a very low rate. In some places, it is a tradition to ‘pass the hat’ for donations
While the team was backed by a sponsor, Indus Gratia, for the first open mic in August, the second event was planned sans a sponsor. This risk was definitely worth it since the event was supported by most of Kochi. Within two hours of gig's commencement, the venue was packed with no space to move.
Power packed: The performances have garnered several of the city's youngsters and cater to a packed house
Despite that, people were insistent on buying a ticket and squeezing into the room, just to get a glimpse of the excitement. Jithin Octave, the trio’s mentor, who was amazed by the positive response, said, “I never thought that Kochi has talent bursting at the seams.”
The only hitch is that such open mic events solely concentrate on the urban crowd. People generally don’t understand the concept and moreover, very few appreciate it. If it becomes more diverse and includes all kinds of people in the city, it would be perfect
Maria Yusuf, Performer
One of the greatest highlights from this event is the fact that a lot of thought has been put into creating the right environment and ambience for all in attendnece. This also reflected in the audience, who respected the performer. It takes an exceptional amount of guts to even get on stage and to have an audience that understands and appreciates that is more than what one can expect. This positive culture is so important in this era and Arbor Vitaè does just that — promote talent and avoid comparison.
“A lot of people come from Kannur and Thiruvananthapuram and keeping this in mind, one of our future plans is to take open mic night to them instead,” said Athira, when asked about Arbor Vitaè's future course. Another way that the team looks to expand is through their format. Hoping not to limit Arbor Vitaè to just open mics, they plan to design various smaller events in the coming months, from a music workshop to a quiet storytelling session. But for now, expect Arbor Vitaè to raise the open mic platform for the third time in Kochi around New Year.