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Kelly Writers House on Feb. 11, 2021. Credit: Liliann Zou

The Kelly Writers House will host a Speakeasy Open Mic Night event this Wednesday, Feb. 16.

College senior Rachel Dennis — who has been involved with the event series since they read at one held for New Student Orientation during their first year at Penn— will host the speakeasy.

KWH has hosted open mic nights since 1997. Jessica Lowenthal, director of KWH since 2005, said that the speakeasy series is a great platform for the community to share stories.

“It made me realize that I needed to be part of the Writers House community,” Dennis added. “It’s definitely my favorite place on campus, and it always has been. I only am the host because I’ve been so many times.”

For this speakeasy, performers aren't required to sign up in advance. Each performer will have three minutes to share their piece. 

“It is an important way to give anyone who wants it a chance to speak at the Kelly Writers House a microphone,” Lowenthal said. “We welcome storytellers, singers, poem writers; anybody.”

While the speakeasy event series has been around for decades, the shift to student leadership is new. 

“It was not really student-organized until recently,” Dennis said. “I think over COVID-19, people started having questions [about the Speakeasy series], and then the change was made.” 

Lowenthal — who has attended over a decade of KWH open mic nights — said that each performance is unique.

“It is always different,” Lowenthal said. “It depends on who comes, and has the capacity to have entirely new readers and people who are really comfortable performing. It truly is such a great environment.”

Dennis echoed these sentiments, and encouraged the Penn community to engage in open mic nights and get involved with KWH.

“The Kelly Writers House and the open mic nights offer great opportunities to test out writing, have voices [be] heard, and meet people. I cannot imagine my college experience without the Writers House.”

The event will be held place at 7:30 p.m. at KWH, and viewers will be able to either attend in person after registering, or watch the event live on YouTube. The show is open to the public, provided that attendees are fully vaccinated and fill out PennOpen Pass or CampusPass, according to KWH.