Anyone who’s in performance arts will tell you this – you never write a piece and jump on to the big stage. Enchanting performances are moulded and honed in the smaller, lesser known corners of the city – at open mics and intimate performance spaces which allow an artist the freedom to tweak their work to its optimum potential. So here are my favourite performance spaces in Mumbai, where aspiring performers mutter magical incantations on the way to casting bigger spells.

Tuning Fork

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Photo source: Tuning Fork

Warm, fuzzy and cozy with a capacity of about 40-odd people, Tuning has just the right kind of vibe for a casual, light-hearted get-together. Just a short walk away from Khar station, Tuning offers a poetry open mic every Monday at 8.30pm where you’re likely to witness a healthy mix of seasoned veterans and new faces. Some of Mumbai’s finest young poets like Rabia Kapoor and Hussain Haidry are regulars here.

#LBBTip: They don’t bite so you can walk up and say hi. Also a shout-out to the comfort food they serve here, which goes supremely well with the feel of the place.

The Cuckoo Club

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Photo source: The Cuckoo Club

Slightly more intimidating than Tuning with its all-black-everything décor, The Cuckoo Club’s got a pretty lovely venue that I personally love as a performer. With bright lights that almost blank out the expectant audience stares {between 50-70 on good nights}, it’s a great place to try out new, experimental stuff you’ve been working on.

Tucked in a lane behind Candies {near Learner’s academy}, Kenny Sebastian often hosts a Comedy Alt Mic here, and it’s definitely worth the shot if you think you’re cut out for comedy. At the last Alt Mic, I performed with Kenny, Kanan Gill, Kaneez Surka and Naveen Richard, which was exhilarating. If you’re a performer, walk up to them and learn as much as you can; nothing better than getting wise counsel from the best.

#LBBTip: Alt Mic event is great for networking and learning, so I say take the plunge and go for it.

The HIVE

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Photo source: The Hive

You can’t talk about what’s brewing in performing arts without mentioning The HIVE. Often hailed as the laboratory for all interesting artistic experiments, The HIVE has poetry open mics and some other great poetry events. High up there on my recommendations for performers looking to start or even those who’ve been performing regularly.

What makes The HIVE unique is that a majority of the audience are performers, which inevitably creates a very encouraging atmosphere for performers. It’s a great space to interact and get feedback on your work from like-minded individuals.

#LBBTip: The HIVE also conducts Blind Poetry nights started off by Prachee Mashru and Aranya Johar – which is basically performing in the dark with glow sticks and fairy lights.

Encompass

19102016_performingvenues06A hint of a personal bias here because my organisation loves this space {and works out of it}, but the energy Encompass exudes is unmistakable. With an upper limit of 150 people, Encompass often plays host to Kommune events and collaborations with other fantastic organisations like Open Sky and The Poetry Club Mumbai. Kommune workshops are audience inclusive events which focus on the art of Storytelling, which a great place to explore and expand your horizons on the idea of writing.

A roster including the stellar tellers like Roshan Abbas, Danish and Kubra Sait, Tess Joseph and poets like Kausar Munir, Arunoday Singh, Rakesh Tiwari, Hussain Haidry, Harnidh Kaur, Rabia Kapoor are all part of the show here. Apart from witnessing the best performers, there’s a good chance you could be part of an intimate experience, so definitely worth the time.

Leaping Windows

19102016_performingvenues05Combining three of my favorite things in the world – books, good food and quiet places, Leaping Windows is a picture-perfect setting for any literary event. Collectives like Kommune and Exclamation Point have conducted successful events here, and the lovely folks at Leaping are very receptive about conducting events with literary themes.

The most unqiuqe bit of this place, however, is a basement full of comics from around the world {which doubles up as a performance space}. It’s a lovely place to chill, and absolutely spectacular to perform in.

#LBBTip: They don’t have regular events, so it’s best to keep your eyes out for them on the Facebook page.

Featured photo courtesy : Kommune India