It began at the Old Town apartment of John-Mark Davidson and Tim Hopkins as a gathering of friends devoted to the written word about eight people including the hosts.
Then friends of friends came. Then friends of friends of friends. Word spread: this was a destination for local writers, a place to be heard and to hear, with some refreshments to loosen the lips. Room became scarce. The crowd overflowed into the kitchen, smushing guests against the oven and refrigerator.
Man, it got hot in that room, remembers Hopkins, a 28-year-old Alexandria native.
Two years later As Was Written has evolved into a two-night event of original poetry, music, spoken word, short story readings and comedy at the Lyceum in Old Town. Its an unheralded event but shouldnt go unnoticed. The lineup meshes the well-known and unknown, promising talents with popular ones.
Theres sardonic rapper and writer Remy Munasifi but also Elina Reyes, an emerging Northern Virginia poet. Theres Clem Snide, a Nashville-based band with folk-soul tendencies, and theres Washington Post humor columnist Alex Petri. But theres also Davidson and Hopkins, talented writers focused on taking their craft to the next level.
In other words, As Was Written is an equal opportunity stage.
I dont see the difference between a book that I really enjoy, a poem that I really enjoy and a song that I really enjoy, Davidson said. To me, if its quality stuff, then Im entertained so we bring them all together.
The variety is deliberate.
I think thats one of the things that sets us apart from other literary events, Davidson said. Were putting together unknowns and super-talented, successful people on the same stage. And as we continue to grow we always want to have a place where even if no one has ever read your writing but you, if we see it and we like it, then we want to give you an opportunity on our stage.
The hosts are no greenhorns when it comes to entertaining and often introspective writing.
Hopkins will share a piece this weekend that may or may not be a fictional story about a guy who may or may not be me. It begins, I accidentally winked at myself in the mirror today and goes from there. Is it vanity? Self-reflection? Yes. Funnier is the fact that he gets caught by his father, and it unravels into a self-deprecating story that seems to come easy to Hopkins.
Something like that cant go unnoticed in big family, Hopkins said. My ideas come from some part of my life and I completely fictionalize several parts of it to make it more entertaining for me, and in turn I hope its entertaining for the readers.
Davidson will read something for the hometown crowd. In a story of inner conflict, he tackles the vexing rivalry between Northern Virginians and Marylanders. No one really knows why it exists, but it does, and the plot thickens when the protagonist begins dating a Maryland college student.
Hes never read the piece in Northern Virginia before but its bound to get some cheers, and probably some hisses from visitors across the river.
And maybe even some applause from the heartland. One couple is making their way from Ohio for the show, Davidson said. Its a testament to As Was Wittens forward momentum. The show has grown with every event since its inception. Its the right direction, according to Davidson who wants As Was Written to become the number one literary stage for writers of all different kinds in the area.
But its just as much about the audience, Hopkins said.
The audience doesnt owe you anything, so its humbling, Hopkins said. And they give back so much.
As Was Written takes the stage at the Lyceum April 8 and 9. $12 in advance, $15 at the door. Ages 21-plus. Free wine and homemade deserts. For more information and ticket sales visit www.aswaswritten.com.