Coffee shop variety show offers stage for everyone

Andrew Lafrance

Andrew Lafrance

The SDSU English Club is hosting a night of entertainment for SDSU and the Brookings community.

On Dec. 12, one of Assistant Professor of English David Faflik’s favorite winter events will occur.

“This night has something for everyone,” he said.

The event is taking place at Cottonwood Coffee on Main Street in downtown Brookings and is the second annual English Club Variety Show.

“There was so much diversity there,” said Faflik of last year’s event. “There was a series of literary-related performances. People did readings, both poetry and prose. There were also spoken monologues, short skits and comedic routines.”

Faflik said there were also several musical performances.

“People played original songs and covers. They played the banjo, guitar and even the accordion.”

A student who writes his own pieces will again be performing this year. Donald Young, a senior wildlife and fisheries major from Vermillion, S.D., plans to perform another original.

“Last year I performed a piece about fishing,” Young said. “I like the idea that there are lots of people listening to what I had to say.”

Young said he was urged by Faflik to attend and perform at last year’s event. The excitement he got from performing is bringing him back.

“At first, it’s nerve-wracking. It clenches my heart with absolute fear, but once I’m up there, it gets better because the audience gets into it.”

Young also said that he thinks this variety night is a good way to diversify students’ experiences.

“Engineers and science majors can perform, as well as English students. I myself am a wildlife and fisheries major. This is an opportunity to be diverse.”

Christine Stewart-Nunez, an assistant professor of English, also said that diversity is important.

“An event like this brings in writers from other areas of study. If everyone that read was an English major, that would not be as exciting.”

Stewart-Nunez said she likes to promote reading out loud in her creative writing classes.

“Creative reading is important to writers, because they feel a certain amount of pressure when they know others are listening to what they have written,” she said. “Confidence is important, but this is a way for writers to get experience. The audience might have questions for them which may help them think about their pieces of work.”

Stewart-Nunez is offering extra credit for her students to attend Saturday’s event.

“I think nine out of 10 that go will end up loving it.”

Several of Stewart-Nunez’s works will be read that night. She read some of her poetry last year and will again perform her original works.

There is no required sign-up for the event though Faflik would appreciate an e-mail from performers so that he can get a rough headcount of the night’s entertainers.

“We open doors at 8 p.m. and will finish when the last person that wants to perform has had a chance,” he said.

Faflik said last year the event ended at about 10:30 p.m. He said that performers are asked to adhere to a five-minute time limit.

Faflik said the SDSU English Club was a good group to host the event.

“We try and get publicity out to the campus as well as the Brookings community. Last year, we had several senior citizens read poems.”

The demand for an event like this in Brookings is quite large, Faflik said.

“I don’t think we could host one every week but having it once a year seems to be working well,” he said. “Folks that come want to have it staged as often as possible.”

Faflik said that perhaps a similar event could be held in the spring.

“If we get a good turnout next weekend, the club may decide to host another variety night.”

Faflik said the turnout for last year’s event was roughly 80 people.

“I think we could have more this year,” he said. “Students should feel free to embarrass themselves while performing here. No one is going to care about how you entertain them.

“This event is all for the written and spoken word,” Faflik said. “No one is going to be judged here, and everyone is welcome to perform.”

Stewart-Nunez said that she was pleased with the turnout last year and hopes to see that many people at Cottonwood again this winter.

“There were just some great pieces read. It is a great chance for students to meet other writers.”

Young enjoyed being heard. “When I performed, it was dead silence. Everyone was listening to what I had to say.”

Students interested in performing or obtaining more information can e-mail Faflik at [email protected], or just show up ready to perform on Dec. 12.