“If you’re talking about other people, it takes the pressure off of talking about you,” Colleen Camenisch explains before a room full of onlookers. “It is somewhat of an aha! moment in her Ignite Reno performance, taking place on The Saint’s stage in a packed house where free space is at a premium for the moment.
Camenisch is speaking about the idea of Wise Speech, taking a more intentional approach to our verbal communication with others, and attempting to fit it into Ignite Reno’s guidelines of 5 minutes of speaking accompanied by a slide show that switches automatically every 15 seconds. Although Camenisch’s performance comes off as polished – she’s onstage without cue cards and has a tone of confidence with her expressive hand gestures — the dozen-or-so performers who take the stage over the course of the night vary in terms of confidence as much as subject matter.
Part TED Talk, part open-mic, Ignite Reno’s quarterly event took over The Saint for the evening, encouraging both new presenters and a few invited guests to speak for 5 minutes on subjects about which they may be knowledgeable and passionate. The beer-hall atmosphere, along with a few technical glitches, provide an engaging and humorous environment, with speakers presenting topics as varied as archaeology, to virtual reality, to the sometimes comical moments about actively teaching her children from a sex-positive perspective, to experiences with the fear of public speaking.
The variety of presentations runs the gamut from humorous to inspirational to informative to people offering new simple ideas that they’ve learned from their experiences in specialty work fields. With benches and tables pushed to the front of The Saint’s dance floor, these quickly filled, leaving the room standing-room only toward the back.
Part of a larger Ignite network, Reno’s iteration of the group has been putting on events in some form since 2009 and has settled on a schedule of about four shows per year. As an observer, it was interesting to see the wide interest of a non-musical bar show, and great to see the support shown by the crowd following each performer’s presentation.
It’s without question that Reno’s bar scene is thriving at the moment, but nights like this, where events seem to push the boundaries beyond the typical live music show, serve to remind some of us that the town is thriving creatively as well. The aspects of storytelling, skill sharing and congeniality that Ignite Reno brought together on this evening serve as a welcome breath of fresh air to the midtown nightlife.