Many poets, actors, musicians, comedians and dancers performed their best work at the Grace Theatre Workshop, Inc.'s first Open Mic Night last week.
"I know a lot of people who are artists and writers and actors, but they just didn't have a venue," said Lucio Fernandez, one of the founders of the Grace Theatre Workshop, Inc. and a professional actor. "There was a lot going on in Hoboken, and but there wasn't anything in Union City."
The Grace Theatre, a non-profit theatre group that provides free acting, singing and dance classes to Hudson County children, will sponsor this event every Saturday at 9 p.m.
Starting from scratch
The idea for the open-mic nights began with the workshop's poetry evenings in Ellsworth Park. However, after the second scheduled date was rained out, Fernandez decided to look for another venue to hold these events.
"I was going to read at the poetry reading in [Ellsworth Park], but it got rained out," said one performer who read two poems last week. "So I came here to read instead."
After the success of last week's open-mic night, Fernandez is planning to expand the stage and possibly book more acts.
"It takes something small to make something big," said Musy Abraham, who read three poems at the open mic night on July 20 and is Fernandez's cousin.
"We are just trying to feel our way," said Fernandez. "Now we have already gotten a lot of calls for next week. This will be an ever growing situation."
Both Abraham and Fernandez, who grew up in Union City, agree that Union City needs a venue like this.
"People nowadays live such hectic lives that they need something to relax and lay back," said Abraham. Abraham said he has been writing his whole life, but said that he has been writing more since his mother died 12 years ago. "People need words and music," he said. "They forget that there is a soft side out there."
"So many times, I would like to try out a monologue or a song before I go to audition," said Fernandez. "This is a great venue for people to try out some of their new monologues or music before auditions."
Fernandez said that he also planning to hold some other small productions at Washington's in the future.
"We have to find a venue wherever we can find them," said Fernandez.
Money goes to kids
A $5 cover charge is collected at the door to benefit the Grace Theatre Workshop Inc.'s children's program.
The Grace Theatre Workshop provides area children ages 10 and up, with free dance, singing and acting lessons. Fernandez said that he also wants to add classes on playwriting to the workshop.
"I want these kids to really learn," said Fernandez, who only allows professional actors, dancers and singers to teach his workshops. "I want to give them a home base."
However, since the program has grown, the workshop was forced to find a new location to hold their classes.
The classes are now being held at 3901 Park Ave. in Union City. However, on Aug. 1, the classes will be moved to Roosevelt School in Union City.
"We have more than 50 students with another 100 on the waiting list," said Fernandez.
Now that they are moving to Roosevelt School, the theatre company has to provide insurance.
"We are looking to do more fundraisers to upset the cost," said Fernandez.
For more information about the Grace Theatre Workshop, Inc. or to sign up to perform at an upcoming open-mic night, call (201) 864-7149.
Washington's is located at 323 48th St. in Union City.