“Words with Friends”: June 1, 2012 at Theater & Dance 1701

This Friday, UCSB’s spoken word group, Lip Bomb, will present their final show of the year, “Words with Friends” at Theater & Dance 1701. The free event, sponsored by Life of the Party, opens its doors at 7:30 p.m. and will include performances by a dozen distinct poets.

Many of the poets involved in Lip Bomb met each other and began performing in professor Kip Fulbeck’s spoken word class in the art department. The creators of Lip Bomb sought to change this: they were not satisfied giving up their spoken word careers with the end of the class and so they organized “Wizard of Balls: An Evening of Spoken Word” at the end of last quarter, and “Words with Friends” this quarter.

Last quarter’s lineup, which featured Alex Sicaud, Gabrielle Dimaranan, Molly Goldman, Mel Rosenberg, Desmond Wilder, Jaclyn Cross, Chanel Miller, Demi Anter, Ryan Yamamoto and Roxi Diaz, performed to a packed house of students, faculty and staff. People literally could not get into the door by the time the show started. This quarter’s group, now including Hilary Adams and Joe Tapiro, is excited and confident that “Words with Friends” will be just as successful.

One of Lip Bomb’s main organizers, third-year psychology major Gabrielle Dimaranan, shared her excitement.

“I’m especially looking forward to this show, since I am a graduating senior,” Dimaranan said. “This will likely be the last time I’ll have the opportunity to perform with Lip Bomb, a group I’ve been with since its inception.”

Fourth-year sociology major and Lip Bomb member Molly Goldman echoed Dimaranan’s sentiments.

“I’ve become such close friends with the members of the group,” Goldman said, “So the title ‘Words with Friends’ is really appropriate.”

The sense of unity and companionship within Lip Bomb is also a definite factor of their success. Alongside this connection with each other, the performers have found how to connect with audiences, and many, like fourth-year psychology major Roxi Diaz, admit that this is a main motivation for performing.

“For me, it’s about conveying something that feels true and real,” Diaz said. “I want someone in the audience to hear my pieces and leave thinking — wow, I really connected to that.”

Second-year CCS literature major Mel Rosenberg explained that, though this connection is nerve-wracking, the catharsis of the experience is thrilling and very much worthwhile.

“We’re pretty much spilling our secrets to an audience of strangers,” Rosenberg said. “It’s a relief actually. Things I would never say in real life I find myself telling over 200 people. It’s an entirely new way to tell a story.”

Goldman hopes that the audience also gains something.

“I remember the first time I saw spoken word, … only about a year ago,” Goldman said. “I didn’t really know what it was going to be like at first, but once I saw the performances I fell in love with it. If one more person has a similar experience to that, then I think it’s all worth it.”

For an evening of what promise to be moving, funny, honest and altogether unforgettable performances, please get together with your group of friends to enjoy “Words with Friends” — and remember to show up early. It will be packed.

“Mouth-to-Mouth”: June 7, 2012 at the MCC Theater

Next Thursday, June 7, students from professor Kip Fulbeck’s Art 137: Spoken Word course will perform in “Mouth-to-Mouth: An Evening of Spoken Word” at the MultiCultural Center Theater. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. but attendees should arrive early; this free show packs the MCC every quarter because of the fantastic performances it notoriously provides.

A unique aspect of these class shows is that most of the students are completely new to spoken word performance when they begin. Some students have some experience in acting or musical performance and find ways to incorporate those in their poems, like three of this year’s performers, Christina Blackwell, Eduardo Perez and Jinling Huo.

Some have other, more random talents, like magic, as with fourth-year psychology major Kevin Ferguson. The idea of “spoken word” — being aware of how to present oneself in front of a crowd, how to gain attention and keep it — is something Ferguson already knew the importance of as a budding magician and the UCSB men’s swim team captain. For his performance on Thursday, Ferguson will incorporate his magic and signature humor to amuse and enthrall the audience.

Other students, like Wilfred “Tank” Garcia, had no performance experience coming into the class, but are excited to perform in “Mouth-to-Mouth” nonetheless.

“Hopefully, the audience is ready for an up close and personal encounter with a Filipino gorilla,” Garcia said. “I’m ready to find my Jane Goodall.”

Other students had a more serious take on the class. Barish Rikabi, whose piece deals with the growth he has undergone as a person thanks to his close friends, loved ones and even the Spoken Word class, expressed how much he has enjoyed this experience so far and encouraged others to attend the show.

“You might discover something about yourself in someone else’s writing,” Rikabi said in an interview via email.

Fourth-year art major Jinling Huo found that preparing for “Mouth-to-Mouth” has been a demanding experience, but that the arduousness of it has been worthwhile.

“Spoken word was important for personal growth and to learn vital life skills and lessons,” Huo said in an interview via email. “There’s nothing like getting your ass kicked and then picking yourself back up.”

Luckily, Thursday’s audience will reap the rewards of this process of ass-kicking and rebuilding with 75 minutes of performance, varying from the light and humorous to the dark and poignant, from the poetic to the animalistic and from the magical to the strange.

This quarter’s Spoken Word teaching assistant, second-year CCS literature and book arts double major Demi Anter (and, full-disclosure, Artsweek Editor) has high hopes for the class and the “Mouth-to-Mouth” show.

“Though everyone came in with different levels of experience, I feel like so many people were talented off-the-bat,” Anter said. “It’s a lot of work putting a show like this together, and getting everyone up to par with what we expect from them and what the audience will expect from them, but I think it has been successful. The work always pays off.”

Veteran lovers of spoken word and newcomers to the art form alike will be able to enjoy the fruits of Prof. Fulbeck’s class’ labor one week from today. Spread the word, “Mouth to Mouth,” and get ready for some fine examples of poetic recitation and resuscitation.