Berkeley Beats Poetry: Slam Poetry Showcase – Interpretive Plan
For this interpretive project, our group thought it would be interesting to highlight the Beat History of Berkeley through a series of monthly (or semi-monthly, if the turnout is high and response is positive) poetry slam/creativity open-mic night showcases. This would initially take place at a single heritage location— the California College of the Arts, and then perhaps expand to set up another showcase at the Sconehenge Café. The poetry slam would be free of charge, although it could be possible to accept donations that could then be donated to a local school or organization supporting a good cause. The initial and focal intention is for this to be a poetry slam, but as a showcase as well, all forms of creative stage performance will of course be accepted. Participants, the performers, may also sing or play an instrument, do a stand-up comedy routine, perform a short skit or dance routine, etc. Local artists can also have the opportunity to have their art work (sculpture, painting, photography, etc.) put on display at the intended location of the showcase. Not only would people be able to learn about their own city’s local history, but this also creates an opportunity for them to share their own narratives with each other.
With the introduction of this poetry slam showcase, it could be a way to bring in a good source of people—local people to San Francisco and the surrounding areas, college, primary and high school students, and those within the arts community. This would be good publicity for the California College of the Arts and for the local area, and be a good way to get more people interested in their community and its history. If these poetry slams were to start occurring at the Stonehenge Café, it would also mean an influx of business (foot traffic and more people attending for the event meaning more customers), for the owners as well.
The concept of performance has the power to have a very moving and even spiritual effect on a person, whether they’re a witness to the performance or the performer themselves. Audience members (as well as the performers) will be able to evoke the past through experiencing (or being the one who incites the experience upon others) auditory and visual stimulation that can create a sense of comfort, discomfort, privacy, suppression or overload of the senses and emotions, and healing and meditation.
It would also be possible, to help better situate these open mic nights and to keep their contextualization, to have a theme for each night of the showcase that relates to something the Berkeley Beat poets stood for. The performers would be able to take these themed nights and incorporate their own emotions, memories, personal backgrounds, thoughts, and opinions and have a safe and supportive environment to express themselves. Due to the unique human-to-human interface of this interpretive project, in a way unlike any other, this project has the potential to be a valuable experience and exchange of teaching and learning for everyone.
Read about our Installation of Text into the Sites