Smile Politely

Pecha Kucha in C-U

When my friend Amy first told my about a new kind of event that was being organized in Champaign-Urbana, it took me a while to understand the concept.

“A what?”

“Pecha Kucha,” she explained, “it’s a sort of show where designers present slides on their work. You should find out more about it, maybe you could present.”

Which is how I ended up meeting Christina Tapp and Madelin Woods, the organizers of Pecha Kucha in C-U. A rapid-fire format for creative presentation, Pecha Kucha invites participants to present a series of twenty images in only six minutes and forty seconds (twenty seconds for each slide). The barrage of slides, together with the necessarily succinct explanation, keeps the audience’s interest and makes it challenging yet fun for the presenter. Christina first discovered it while in Europe with friends. They heard about a Pecha Kucha Night in a neighboring town after a long day, but weren’t sure about it.

“Only I wanted to go,” says Christina, who went anyway. “It was an amazing event, and I knew I wanted to get involved.” So Christina and Madelin set to work getting a contract from the Pecha Kucha Night non-profit organization, which supports such events in 230 cities worldwide. “Champaign-Urbana was first city this small to be allowed to put on an event,” says Madelin.

Getting its start in Japan in 2003, Pecha Kucha (commonly pronounced in a variety of ways) was originally created by two employees of an architectural firm as a way to allow young designers to meet each other and showcase their work. Since then however, it has branched out to a variety of different kinds of presentation, something that Pecha Kucha Night C-U is actively pursuing.

Madelin and Christina are interested in people knowing that this isn’t just a venue for artists to show their work, but also a way for community members to show their creativity in a variety of ways. Madelin said of one such event she went to in another city, a woman who had just moved to Indiana “…gave a presentation about how the end of her driveway was in a different timezone than her house. It was great!”

The upcoming event showcases a variety of local people and visitors from around the country, including a quilt artist, an illustrator, a confectionary artist, and everything from a mathematica artist to a presentation about a wedding in a taco bell.

The terms of the contract require four events per year, so Christina and Madelin are planning on putting on three more events and will be looking for community members to volunteer to present. “You don’t have to be an artist,” says Christina. “It can be about anything.” The event is intended to provide a laid-back atmosphere for presenters that makes it easy for them to be themselves.

The Canopy Club is hosting the first Pecha Kucha night on Friday, September 11 at 8 p.m., doors at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 in advance or $7 at the door.

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