By Marc Hartmann
For one night a month, the usually-quiet Toner Student Lounge is transformed into a packed room overflowing with talent and energy.
As Open Mic Night enters its fourth year at Saint Mary’s University, the event is seeing more success than ever and seems to be growing in popularity.
OMN is a monthly event held in the Toner Student Lounge in which any member of the SMU community, including students, faculty and staff, can perform any act they wish. The event provides a laid-back atmosphere in which attendees can enjoy hot beverages and snacks while watching members of the community perform. Though the event has a start time of 9 p.m., performers are usually still taking the stage at 11:30 p.m. and need to be stopped due to time constraints.
Ben Scott and Niki Ciulla, co-presidents of OMN, have both performed and helped out with the club from the very beginning.
“I can remember a time a few years ago when we would put on an event and be happy to have a couple dozen or so people there,” said Ciulla. “Now, averaging over 150 people per event, I can’t even imagine that.”
Unlike most performance venues, OMN provides an opportunity to simply show up and give a performance. Scott and Ciulla both emphasized that OMN is not necessarily about the performing but, instead, about the sharing.
“People now realize that there is little uncomfortability at the event with no pressure to perform,” Ciulla said. “But people who do come to sing, read, juggle, or do whatever feel supported.”
Scott pointed to the “informal and spontaneous interactions” between the performers and audience members and the “relaxed and fun environment” of the event, which makes the performers feel at ease.
Scott and Ciulla said that, ultimately, the diversity it encompasses makes the event special and unique rather than its success in numbers.
“OMN strives to bring the entire SMU community together for an all-inclusive celebration of expression,” said Scott.
Ciulla said that the goal for the OMN group is to be “appealing to all and not intimidating to anyone.”
The next OMN is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 14, at 9 p.m. in the Toner Student Lounge. Those interested in performing can simply come and sign up. All supporters of OMN are encouraged to join the OMN Facebook page to keep up with all the latest news and view recent OMN performances.