Charles Haines, Master of Cups, Artist and dedicated Red Roomer, shares his memory of the Red Room’s creation:
Being part of the first days of Red Room was pretty amazing. It started sitting around a table at Roma’s house. Ayesha, who is the co-founder of Red Room, presented us with her idea for the Red Room platform [at that table]. She had traveled to Taidung and she had met Ping Chu there. They got talking about what she wanted to do, which was create a listening space, and a sharing space. Ping just happened to have a place where we could do this. This partnership, which started during that meeting, led to the creation of the Red Room.
She talked with us about it after that first meeting with Ping. We started throwing around ideas about what we were going to do, and who we were going to invite, and the name of the event. We had the name Red Room, but we wanted a subtitle to give a better- nobody [knew] what Red Room [was], so we needed something to explain [it]. Manav came out of his room and said “Why don’t you call it Stage Time & Wine?” and that was it. He walked back into his room and we didn’t hear from him again. I think he was, like, eighteen at the time. His involvement with the Red Room grew progressively and he used to open each Stage Time & Wine with a poem he wrote.
I wasn’t really very much involved with the organizing of any of the events at that time. I sat in and talked about things, but it was very kind of organic that first one. We were just asking friends to come and play music. At the very first Stage Time & Wine, I worked with Manav at the bar. We had a great time together. I think it was that night that we bonded. I did not know then how much a part of my life he would become and I am so grateful that we worked together at the first Red Room bar.
Since we didn’t know whether it was going to be a onetime thing—one Stagetime & Wine– or six months, or whatever, we didn’t really plan for Red Room to be what it’s become. It’s grown every year. We definitely didn’t know when we were sitting around the table what Red Room would become.
I think, after that first one, a lot of people that were involved were so excited about it. It was their enthusiasm that encouraged Ayesha, and all of us, to do it as a once-a-month event for as long as there was an interest. Ayesha left a few months later and Roma and Manav have run with it and made it what Red Room is today.
14 March 2016
Image: The earliest invitation to Stage Time & Wine, art by Charles Haines.
From Jimbo Clark, our MC for Stage Time & Wine LXXXIX
Number 89 went just fine.
From poems and tributes to Moms, to a little Shakespeare and an emotional monologue from “When a Man Loves a Woman,” the night was full of emotion, laughter and intimate sharing. On the musical side we had a first time Ukulele duo, and songs about Angels and “Whatever you want this song to be about,” and a moving sign language version of the song Flashlight. Magical moments moved the universe as we enjoyed giving and receiving the best of each other.
by 張悅安 YuehAn
Reflections on Stage Time & Wine, 88th Edition.
Stage Time & Wine is a place to express yourself freely in any language or form, and remember that everyone is an artist.
I, Too: A Reflection of Stage Time and Wine 86
Stomach churning, I put my name on the performers’ list of Stage Time & Wine (STW) LXXXVI. Although it would be my second time to read at STW, I had reasons to dread. Located near the top of the list, I thought my trial would soon come and be over. As time went by, however, I realized that the host had shuffled the performances to give the show a better flow. That unexpected unpredictability only worsened my stage fright.
Finally my name was called, and I dragged myself up front. My nervousness was transparent. I prefaced my reading with Langston Hughes’ poem “I, Too” as my backhanded apology. In this poem, the African American poet pays tribute to an earlier literary giant, Walt Whitman, and his poem “I Hear America Singing.” This “darker brother” stresses that in addition to the people of different genders and occupations whom Whitman praises for forming the multi-faceted American identity, African Americans, “too, sing America.” He laughs at the discrimination he suffers from and asserts that one day, people will see how “beautiful” he is. Just as the two poets reflected and celebrated the American-ness from their view points, so I wanted to maintain that “I, too, am America.” Despite being neither black nor white, or even American, having neither the English language as my mother tongue nor the Anglo-American literature as my inheritance, I’ve written a thesis which surfaces the little-noticed positive sides in one of the gloomier poets, Philip Larkin, and I wish to ascend from academic writing to poetry or prose, writings that may one day be included in the literary canon.
It was with this ambition I attended STW that evening—to test the waters as a writer for the first time. Like Hughes, I resorted to an earlier American writer, Raymond Carver, for inspiration and based my narration on his short story “Popular Mechanics,” a story about a couple fighting over their child. Beginning by borrowing elements from a famous writer and retelling his story from a different character’s perspective, I hope that one day I, too, an outsider of this language and this culture, will have unique tales to offer.
Ever so nervously, I started my reading. My whole body was tense, my legs trembling. So was my voice, I believe. A couple of times I paused, to catch my breath and for dramatic effect. During those moments, I found myself embraced by an attentive silence. I peeked over the edge of my script. No one was checking their phone or checking out the bar. Instead, I was greeted by faces with eager anticipation. Feeling encouraged, in a steadier voice I read on. After I finished reading, the audience’ warm applause thawed my stiff muscles, enabling me to bow and resume my seat.
Earlier that evening, I joked with friends that with Red Room’s renowned supportive crowd, “I wouldn’t know how badly I suck.” I was wrong. The audience’s feedback was genuine. They shared with me how they were moved (“I knew the cameraman was taking my pictures and I looked stupid, but I was jaw-dropped and couldn’t control my face”), and which parts of my story resonated with them (“I’m a mother, so I know what the woman in the story chooses to do at the end”). That night, I left STW, eyes brimming with tears, heart full of joy. Like many others, I, too, look forward to returning to STW, where several successful artists have been cradled. Uplifted by the warm air current at Red Room, a fledgling writer is gathering up momentum, ready to fly.
By Li-Chieh Lily Yen