by Marcy Clark
Penny hosts New York’s most popular and yet inclusive Open Mike in town every Tuesday at 9pm at Theatre Under St. Marks and this Tuesday May 12th all proceeds benefit NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault.
Pre-show sign-up by lottery . 7 minutes maximum per act. 5 hours of art only $3.00
WM: You run what can best be described as a New York Institution. How did Penny’s Open Mic get started?
PP: Well after being deported from England they sent me on a plane to New York, with out a job, money or a place to live I made the very logical decision to stay to do theater. Within the first month I found myself managing a bar which was renovating the basement. I suggested to put a stage down there instead of a pool table. Bada bing bada boom we built a small stage and history was made. Less then a year later we moved into the finest black box theater in NYC, UNDER St. Marks Theater. We’ve been with horsetrade ever since and thank god we found them. They are art over profit and truly support what we are really about. It has also given the mic a very theater feel which makes performance art and monologues a very natural progression.
WM: How did you get involved in the NYC Against Sexual Assault Fundraiser? This is an important issue to the Women’s Mafia as well.
PP: The 12th marks a year of a very personal liberation. This is my way of trying to heal. I want to raise the voices of those who feel no one is listening. There is a place for us all to speak and be heard. There are people who want to change things and want all women and men to be able to recognize abuse so that it doesn’t escalate.
WM: My first time performing in front of a crowd was a bit traumatic. When was the first time you got up and performed in front of people? Was it a raving success or a bit uncomfortable for all those involved?
PP: I believe I was the rose in Alice in Wonderland…pretty sure no one was harmed.
WM: What experience do you hope people come away with from an evening at Penny’s Open Mic? Is it REALLY open to all?
PP: Penny’s Open Mic is Open to all artists who are in it for the art. People who are not only there to share their work but to listen and watch others. It really has become a welcoming, open and supportive community.
WM: What can the Women’s Mafia make happen for you?
PP: The subject of sexual assault is very important to me and I am so thankful for the Women’s Mafia taking an interest in spreading the word and raising the voices of those who too often silenced.
WM: Lastly, what is the best and/or most surreal moment so far from an evening at Penny’s Open Mike?
PP: Watching an artist have a break through on stage is thrilling. The entire room feels it!
Reviews of Penny’s Open Mic:
“Spoken-word artists, musicians and other creative folks are invited to share their talents at this weekly gathering hosted by Penny Pollak.”
-Time Out New York- (Four time Books and Poetry Critics Pick!)
“Head on down to Pennies Open Mic for a supportive crowd to urge you on to greater vocal heights. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.”
-The New York Press- (24/7 Things to do in NYC)
Penny‘s Open Mic Night at Under St.Marks Theater… Readers are chosen by lottery pre-show, and those lucky few get 7 minutes of open-mic. Sessions interspersed with raffle prizes, special guests, fancy beer, and a musical hootenanny!”