MAC Café

McCallum Excalibur to host Coffee House this Halloween

During the 2018 Coffee House, then junior Sophie Knifton (now one of the Excalibur directors) and then sophomore Kaia Boyle 
introduce the next set of performers

During the 2018 Coffee House, then junior Sophie Knifton (now one of the Excalibur directors) and then sophomore Kaia Boyle introduce the next set of performers

Bela Tapperson, staff reporter

It’s October 31, Halloween, a B Day. Finally, 8th period hits and you dig into your backpack for the ticket you bought earlier that week and excuse yourself to the library. Giving your ticket to an Excalibur student and stepping in, it’s transformed. There’s decorations, a stage, pillows and blankets laid out on the floor, and furniture arranged around a stage. A refreshments table is to the right, complete with real, good food and drinks from local shops around Austin like Austin Cakeballs, Juiceland, and Monkey Nest. You sit down with your friends and watch the artists perform until the bell rings. 

Then junior Jazz Aguilar plays a song during the 2018 Coffee House

Excalibur, McCallum’s literary magazine, puts on two Coffeehouses a year, one on Halloween, and one on Valentine’s Day. The former, from an Excalibur student’s perspective, begins all the way back in September. 

The first thing the staff does is brainstorm a theme. 

Of course, it’s Halloween, but more specifically this year, it’s trick or treat: “this idea of a duality- trick and treat, like sweet and salty,” said junior Pearl Heinley, an Excalibur student. Then, different teams start to work on more detailed planning, which includes recruiting sponsors, planning decorations, determining layout, and deciding who performs.

“I love talking on the phone with people,” said Heinley. “That’s why I’m on the marketing team.” They not only have to recruit sponsors, but also are in charge of fundraising, social media, and advertising. For Coffeehouse, Heinely “[sends] out a bunch of emails to local coffee shops and little businesses,” that can donate snacks or money. 

Excalibur students also bring things for Coffeehouse themselves. 

“We have little sign up sheets in the Excalibur room,” said junior Viv Osterweil. “People [are assigned] to get certain foods, or decorations.” The decorations are out up in the library the day of when students set up. 

“Everything mostly happens the day of coffeehouse,” said Isobel Buffum Robbins, a junior. “It’s a big scramble. During third period everybody in Excalibur, or anyone who can, helps set up.” Although it can be chaotic, as much as possible is planned beforehand to make it go as smoothly as possible, this year especially. 

Everything mostly happens the day of coffeehouse, It’s a big scramble. During third period everybody in Excalibur, or anyone who can, helps set up

— Isobel Buffum Robbins

“It’s a lot more organized now that the people in charge really want to get stuff done and really make it easier in the long run,” said Buffum Robbins. Every aspect of Coffeehouse has to be planned out.

“I really like setting up,” said Osterwiel, “and designing where stuff goes.” One of the changes made this year is the location of the stage, as well as the overall layout. 

“Past years it’s been tight and confusing,” said Heinley, “So hopefully the traffic flow is going to be a lot better this year.”

A lot of planning also goes into the performances themselves, as they’re the main attraction. 

“We have a team who [auditions] all of the people,” said Heinley. Auditions take place three weeks before the event, in the sun room after school, where anyone who wants to can come in and perform. These are filmed, and the tapes are later watched and the performers are decided. They release the list of performers on social media, and the set list is determined the week after. This upcoming Coffeehouse, selected artists include Superfeelers, Marlee Foster, Jazz Aguilar, Isabella Bayeta, Spinuzzi, Cora Jordan, Jay Mathias & Will Dooley, Deva, Ivy Golyzyniak, and Connie Pierce. 

These people are one of the main purposes of Coffeehouse, which is for “a bunch of people [to get] together to share their music and poetry,” said Buffum-Robbins. It also allows “people want to get their name out there. Or if people just want so strongly to perform their art for people.” 

Not only does Coffeehouse benefit performers and promotes community in the McCallum population, it also benefits Excalibur itself. 

“We get sponsors and our name out there,” said Heinley. “It’s a way to fundraise to produce the best quality magazine that we can.”

And really, that’s the whole point of Excalibur. Throughout the year, they develop this magazine that includes students’ art and literature, and they sell it at the end of the year. This year, they even include a CD so music can be a part of it as well.

“We want it to be a piece of artwork,” said Heinley. “It’s an anthology.” And coffeehouse is a way to promote and raise funds for this magazine, while also creating community in the students at McCallum. So come support Excalibur and fellow students by coming to Coffeehouse this week. 

And, as every Excalibur member, and the posters plastered around the school will remind you, “submit to Excalibur!”