Open stage: a venue for sharing creativity

The crowd was small at the first ever open stage organized by LCSS student Lauren Frost

Judith Quinlan (front) plays the piano as Lauren Frost reads one of her poems at the open stage on Oct. 26.

Judith Quinlan (front) plays the piano as Lauren Frost reads one of her poems at the open stage on Oct. 26.

For those who were in doubt that it would actually happen, doubt no more. Open stage is indeed taking place every fourth Friday of the month at Studio 261 on South Shore Road.

The crowd was small at the first ever open stage — organized by Lauren Frost, a student at Lake Cowichan Secondary. But both Frost and business owner Judith Quinlan were enthusiastic and determined to see it continue.

These Friday evenings were first set to be spoken word nights, but Quinlan is hoping that it will become an evening where anyone can share their art, in whatever form.

“That’s what I’m hoping this sort of open stage/coffee house can be, is a really supportive atmosphere for people to bring their art,” said Quinlan. “Finding ways that all forms of creativity connect. So that’s why I like the idea that we stopped it just being spoken word.”

“Anything goes, just come and present your art,” adds Frost.

Alex Werk says when she was on her way to the studio that evening, she didn’t know what she was going to present.

“On my way here I was thinking like, what should I do? I have to do something,” said Werk. “I’m like, I could tell jokes.”

But instead, Werk showed her sketch book — images of lions, tigers, faces, dragons, and much more, all done in charcoal, ink, and pencil.

She says that sharing her art is important because of the feedback it presents and the subsequent chance to improve her work.

“I like presenting anything I do for opinions,” said Werk. “Because I like learning from my mistakes.”

She seems to have developed a thick skin, saying that when people have harsh criticisms, she tries not to take things personally.

Frost agrees that constructive criticism is invaluable to any artist, but for her the reasons behind her desire to share her work with others is more about freedom of expression.

“I think that whatever art work you’re doing, to have other people listen to it, it just gives you that feeling of that it is important no matter what form it comes in,” said Frost.

She also feels that sharing one’s art is a way of sharing emotion, “without being too obvious about it. And it just tells people about you, without being blunt. It’s just a sense of belonging. Whenever I go somewhere and I see people presenting art work of any kind, and I present mine, it’s a sense of belonging. You’re not the only crazy person who does some sort of art in your spare time.”

Frost, who read two poems at the event, says she hasn’t written poetry for a while, but she is getting back into it and would like to try something new.

“What I’m trying to test the waters of right now is slam poetry, which is a lot different, but I really like it,” said Frost.

She experimented a little with this format during the open stage by reciting her poems as Quinlan played the piano.

“It gives you a chance to be funny and have attitude and speak out for things you believe in without being ridiculed for it,” said Frost. “No matter what your opinion is, you won’t be criticized if you put it in a slam poem.”

At the next open stage, Nov. 23, at 7 p.m., Frost promises a performance of some of her slam poetry.

Frost has been spreading the word about the open stage night at Lake Cowichan Secondary, but both her and Quinlan would like remind area residents that it is open to anyone.

“There isn’t a lot to do in this town on Fridays,” said Quinlan. “I just hope it keeps going and more people come. And you know, I think with all of these it’s a matter of what develops depends on what people who come want. There are all these possibilities.”

Studio 261 has ongoing events each Friday.

The first friday of every month offers residents the chance to take part in theatre games. The second Friday is always an open acoustic jam. Third Friday is movie night and for November they will be showing 2001 A Space Odyssey. And Finally, the fourth Friday is the open stage. All events start at 7 p.m. and are free to attend.

Quinlan was also happy to announce that the studio has its website up and running. If you would like more information about the studio, or any of the events and services offered, go to

Or call 250-749-3728.


Lake Cowichan Gazette