Before books and magazines, newspapers and scrolls, e-readers, tablets, tabloids and texts, the spoken word reigned supreme. The oral tradition still exists in many forms, in almost all cultures, so it’s only fitting that our seven-year tradition, the Whiteaker Block Party, should collide with one so formidable.
The stage kicks off at 3 pm with local poetry — an art form best enjoyed when read aloud — and as the day draws on the boards are home to a feast of different orators ready to give it their all, among them comedians, singers, storytellers and special entertainers. Last year the stage was quiet and secluded, a perfect oasis from the heavy-hitting temperatures of that day, and this year will be no different, but there is one draw to this year’s line up that makes the Spoken Word Stage particularly inviting: a chance to hold the mic in your hand.
Beginning after the poets, at 4:30 pm, the open mic and variety show is destined for greatness, with all of Eugene’s wacky, riveting (and perhaps drunken) mouths running off in all directions. David Priest, the stage facilitator, is a man who keeps his vision for the Spoken Word Stage apparent: Fun is priority number one. So don’t be shy, folks. If you’ve got a short story, anecdote, Gregorian chant, Christopher Walken impression, talent for throat singing or a cache of jokes (I’m looking at you, Frrog Miller), then get your ass to the Spoken Word Stage and give the public something to talk about.
When all is said and done, there’s rumors of karaoke, and what better way to show that you can scream into a microphone than that, right? If the karaoke happens, it’ll be at 7:30 pm, and you can wind down the evening and bring on the night.
The Spoken Word Stage is a growing entity unto itself, and may it become a tradition of traditions, a synecdochic high-five for the oratorical gods. And hey, the stage’s format may be loose-lipped — it may be down right nonsensical — but, Priest says, “I know the schedule isn’t very specific, but I like it that way.”
For more info on the Spoken Word Stage, visit wkly.ws/1iq. There are still slots available if you have a prepared act that stretches beyond the bounds of open mic-dom.