Dec 2, 2008

Coffeehouse unwrapped: A behind-the-scenes look at a holiday tradition

by Danielle Talbert

Christmas Coffeehouse is one staple event at Liberty University that can be counted on every year.

With humble beginnings set in the early 1990s at David’s Place, Coffeehouse was so popular that it was moved to the Schilling Center for a few years before finding its current home at the Vines Center in 2006.

“Coffeehouse started as a small talent show, it gave students the opportunity to perform beyond an open mic styled event,” Associate Director of Student Activities Alese Chandler said. “From there, it just kept growing.”

Hosted and presented by students, Christmas Coffeehouse provides a change of pace and a much needed break from studying, not to mention the holiday spirit that it brings to campus.

Even the audition process brings with it the air of the holidays. The judges get to see a wide variety of Christmas-themed acts, but must narrow them down to 15 - 18 acts.

“Each act is put into a category (music, video or drama),” Chandler said. “From there, we grade each act according to stage presence, quality of sound, creativity and obviously how well the Christmas theme is detected.”

As far as production is concerned, set-up starts on Thursday night before the event with the bringing in of the sound and light equipment. After convocation on Friday morning, the real work begins. The lights are set up, 36 of them to be exact, and the sound checks run from noon until 7 p.m.

Immediately after the show tear down starts first with the floor, then makes the stage and the roof along with all that is hung on the backdrop. Tear down can take up to three hours with the whole crew working non-stop.

“At 2 a.m., working non-stop is difficult but everyone usually remains on task because we all have the same thought - sleep,” Chandler said.

Many people are involved in the process, including Student Activities, CSER volunteers, building services, technical production staff and an outsourced production company, according to Chandler.

For the actual show many more workers are involved including security, ticket takers, stage hands and hosts, just to name a few.

“We at Student Activities enjoy Coffeehouse and the tradition that it is for Liberty University,“ Chandler said. “So we find all the work well worth it.”

This year’s event will be held on Dec. 5. Doors open at 11 p.m. and the festivities start at 11:30. Tickets are $3 in advance and $5 at the door. Tables that seat eight people are available for $60 per table. For more information, contact the Office of Student Activities at 592-3148.

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