For many of us, holidays are the ideal time to go on trips, hang out with friends, eat to our heart’s content and rest for the whole day while scrolling through Facebook and Instagram. However, this was not the case for Shiwans Shrestha, Alan Jung Thapa, Pratham Pradhan, and Kapil Bhandari. Right after their SEE examination, they found a way to make productive use of their leisure time and initiated an open stage, Astra Mic Night.
Astra Mic Night is a unique platform in Nepal where any artist can showcase his/her talent on a stage without the need of elaborate events. They can recite poems, perform standup comedy, play music or take part in storytelling. Driven by the concept of establishing mic-night sessions not just as a one-day event but a culture in Nepal, they not only promote popular artists but also equally facilitate strugglers, regardless of their experiences and skill levels.
“Popular artists might be the attractions of our show but we also encourage new talents and try giving them the exposure and platform that they require. So, this rare combination of both professionals and beginners balances the quality of our show,” says Shrestha.
The four boys who founded Astra Mic Night were always fascinated by stage events since their school days. If one was into live acoustic music then the other preferred watching motivational speakers or stand-up comedians. Exchanging YouTube links of such videos was a part of their daily routine. Later, these varied interests made them choose to initiate an open mic show instead of trying to come with other kinds of programs.
Their first event was conducted on November 30, 2017. But being very young and new in this field, it was a challenging for them to manage everything professionally and in limited time. So, they decided to understand procedures, know audiences, and gain enough experiences before moving on to the main events. Due to this, they named their first three shows as pre-sessions one, two and three respectively. Fortunately, all these sessions were hugely successful.
“To be honest, our first experience was very tiring and tedious. Yet, after months of preparations, getting to see many talented personalities on stage, sharing their stories made it all seem worth it. It also gave us the strength to continue doing this,” recalls Pradhan.
Now, after organizing a couple of main events, the teams seem to be very confident about their future events as well. Pradhan confesses that people underestimating their capabilities because of their age, difficulties in coming up with ideas, and managing finances no longer seem like big issues. Thapa mentions that it is their trust in one another, support from their sponsors, and love of their audiences and artists that have made them strong enough to face any kinds of challenges.
The literal meaning of ‘Astra’ is a divine trajectory weapon given to a warrior by his creator. Similarly, for an artist, his creations are his weapons that they project through the mic. As its meaning suggests, Astra Mic Nights is also regarded as a war field where artists words tend to create a huge impact on its target, the society.
The events of Astra Mic Nights are organized fortnightly on Thursdays. Interested artists, audiences, and volunteers can register themselves for the events through the Facebook page of The Jatra Events and Management. Gradually, this group aims to expand Astra Mic Nights not just in Kathmandu valley but across the nation as well to be able to reach new artists.
(If you wish to present or enjoy live music, poems, songs, stories and speeches, all under a single roof, then visit Bikalpa Art Café at Pulchowk, Lalitpur on February 22.)