By Megan Haugh, Contributor
Before juniors Erin Plitt and Alex Constantine took the positions of hosting Coffeehouse, the two both participated on the open platform, not as students but as individual artists. On the evening of Sept. 29, Plitt and Constantine opened that platform to both new and returning Manhattan College students, so that they too could create a definition of their own artistry.
The steps in front of Smith Auditorium transitioned from a break between classes during the day to a stage where students could express themselves through their talents and imaginations during the night.
From covers of “Viva La Vida” and “Space Oddity,” to magic tricks and standup comedy, each artist presented to the audience their own personal flare and identity. Some performers were veterans on the stage and some were rookies just testing out the waters, but all of them had in common the desire to be a part of Manhattan’s ever-growing community of the performing arts.
The duo of Plitt and Constantine came to be at the beginning of last year when previous hosts, RJ Liberto and George Schlinck selected the duo. Constantine recalled, “RJ and George were the hosts before us and they put a ton of effort into it, and they hosted it for three years together.”
For Plitt, this position was crucial because the previous hosts wanted to make sure that there was a female host in the loop since there hadn’t been in a while. Plitt and Constantine were both able to provide the right amount of muscle to keep Coffeehouse as a welcoming environment that wouldn’t deter any newcomers from performing, or audience members from shying away at the chance to take over the mic.
When expressing what they wanted from the events, the hosts both discussed the need for a very roomy collective. “We don’t want to deter people from coming, because everyone thinks that they have to be talented or that they have to perform a song. Like they can perform anything and do whatever they want; they can get up here and just scream into the mic for all we care. So we just want it to be like a very fun program for people to just come whenever and sign up,” Constantine explained with enthusiasm, emphasizing that performers don’t need to carry a perfect tune or write a clean stanza – they just need to perform.
The duo works together to give people a platform where artists can express themselves without any kind of pressure while cultivating energy and fluidity to the show.
Plitt reflected on one night last year when the show’s placement during the week didn’t allow for most regulars to perform. The duo expected not to have a great show, but they were greeted by an immense number of newcomers who were eager to perform. The amazing turnout was stacked with back-to-back sets, the show even ran later than planned because there were so many people who wanted to participate.
“That high after a good show is what makes it for me,” Plitt said. While Plitt loves to host, it became clear that she more deeply loves to provide other students with an open and easy-going atmosphere to construct their own forms of expression.
During the event, there was also a table open to collect donations for natural disaster relief. The hosts both decided that through Coffeehouse, they would work together with other organizations on campus and raise money to aid in relief efforts as well as sell fair trade chocolate.
Coffeehouse will reoccur at the end of every month during the school year, most likely on either Tuesdays or Thursdays, typically located in Jasper Hall first floor lounge or out on the steps of Smith. Wherever you find Coffeehouse, you’ll find Plitt and Constantine.