Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Spoleto tickets go on sale tomorrow at 10 a.m.

Get 'em while they're hot

Posted by Connelly Hardaway on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 at 4:30 PM

Yo, Carmen features María Pagés. - DAVID RUANO
  • David Ruano
  • Yo, Carmen features María Pagés.
Greetings, Spoletians. Spoleto Festival USA 2017 is right around the corner (well, in May, but that comes faster than you think) and tickets go on sale to the general public tomorrow, Jan. 18, at 10 a.m. Snag your tickets online or by calling (843) 579-3100.*

And, great news, it's also not too late to participate in the 2017 pre-sale either. You've got a few hours left and if there's something you're dying to see you can become a festival donor and gain access to those coveted tickets.

How do you choose what to see? Good question. Our overview critic Maura Hogan previewed the fest earlier this month — be sure to check that out.

*Online and call volume may be high tomorrow, so you may be put on hold or into a virtual waiting room, FYI.

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Meet our 2017 Spoleto overview critic, Maura Hogan

Let the countdown begin

Posted by Connelly Hardaway on Thu, Jan 12, 2017 at 10:22 AM

Maura Hogan is City Paper's contributing theater editor. - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Maura Hogan is City Paper's contributing theater editor.
Every year the Charleston City Paper seeks out a superstar writer to serve as our overview critic for Spoleto Festival USA coverage. An overview critic attends all of the festival's shows, reviewing them individually, and thinking on a larger scale to connect themes among performances, directors, and companies. It's no easy task. The overview critic must not only have a strong knowledge base of all things arts-related but an especially keen eye for how those themes pertain to Charleston as well as their connections to the international arts scene.

This year we didn't have much trouble landing on Maura Hogan, City Paper's contributing theater editor. Hogan, who grew up in Charleston, has a personal history with the Spoleto Festival.

Hogan has followed Spoleto Festival USA since its debut opera, The Queen of Spades, in 1977 — in fact she was in it. On that first foray she did so from the other side of the proscenium, as a member of its children’s choir. In 1978, she spied a safari-suit-clad Tennessee Williams ambling along a path at Kiawah, in town for the premiere of A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur. In 1985, a family for whom she nannied offered her a select spot at a small private concert in a Legare Street home, performed by the then-teenager violinist Joshua Bell. To sum it up, this lifelong arts lover is pretty sure that she wouldn’t be the same person today if those unfettered ideas and phenomenal artists hadn’t taken to the streets and theaters and parlors of her hometown during her formative years.

A marketing professional, Hogan works as director of advancement communications at the College of Charleston, and has previously held staff positions at Time Inc.,The New Yorker, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Gourmet, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. She received a BA from the College of Charleston and a masters degree in creative writing from Trinity College Dublin.

Hogan has contributed pieces on the arts, culture, travel and lifestyle to publications including The New York Times, Gourmet, Garden & Gun, and The Post & Courier, as well as for cultural websites such as Flavorpill and Culturebot.

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Monday, June 13, 2016

Spoleto Finale ends with rosé, deviled eggs, and plenty of night sweats

That's a wrap

Posted by Caroline Enten on Mon, Jun 13, 2016 at 11:56 AM

The Spoleto Finale completely sold out - DANIEL KFOURY
  • Daniel Kfoury
  • The Spoleto Finale completely sold out
Since attending Spoleto SCENE Shakedown back in April and at every Spoleto SCENE event since, all that my fellow partygoers can seem to talk about is the Finale out at Middleton Place. Of all the shows, this half day concert-cum-picnic feels like the most accessible of all the festival offerings, appealing to the masses with relatively low ticket prices, a family friendly environment, and a well rounded musical lineup leading up to one fantastic headliner. Thousands of happy, sweaty people set camp upon the manicured, 18th century lawns of the old rice plantation yesterday, and while I saw some impressive spreads (candlelit tables! CanJam tournaments! vintage picnic baskets shaped like watermelons!), no one quite knows how to transform a grassy knoll like the SCENEsters do.
Chef David Schuttenburg feeds Chef Damon Wise - DANIEL KFOURY
  • Daniel Kfoury
  • Chef David Schuttenburg feeds Chef Damon Wise
Midway between the main entrance and the stage, tucked off to the side, resided an oasis beneath a canopy of oaks. Fenced off and carefully guarded, the SCENE party grounds were the envy of many attendees at yesterday’s final Spoleto offering. Shade was at a premium, with most people seeking refuge along the tree-lined perimeter of venue until sundown. SCENE HQ felt like air conditioning in comparison to the open spaces beyond, though your ever faithful reporter still managed to capture the “drowned rat” look within 30 minutes upon arrival.
Garret Bean and Will McKeachie relax in the shade - DANIEL KFOURY
  • Daniel Kfoury
  • Garret Bean and Will McKeachie relax in the shade
Thankfully, the rosé was already flowing, this time provided by Tim Logan and Patrick Emerson of Curated Selections. Their enormous bottle of AIX, named after the French city where it’s made, cooled the palates of many a SCENEster and made for some regrettable photo ops later (Exhibit A: Yours Truly).
Yours truly getting cozy with a bottle of rose - DANIEL KFOURY
  • Daniel Kfoury
  • Yours truly getting cozy with a bottle of rose
Other beverage options included three different pours from Revelry Brewing — including one fruity saison called “Naturaleza Viva,” honoring artist Frida Kahlo, and infused with prickly pear foraged from Charleston’s own barrier islands — and a Patron tequila-based take on a Mexican mule. If there’s a Beverage Director on the SCENE party planning committee, I think it’s safe to say that we now know their poison(s).
Kincaid Fairburn of Zero George pours Patron - DANIEL KFOURY
  • Daniel Kfoury
  • Kincaid Fairburn of Zero George pours Patron
The drinks were most appreciated and a necessity to make it through the day. The unlikely belle of the ball, however was  tall, bespectacled and bearded Baltimorean Damon Wise, who prepared enough ham salad deviled eggs to feed an army, followed by pit beef sandwiches that would make any South Carolinian question their allegiance to pulled pork. Accompaniments included herby potato salad, smoked corn on the cob slathered with mayo and ricotta salada, and giant wedges of half sour pickles. Patrons snagged heaping plates of food, then settled onto the ground to feast at low dining tables atop black and white checkered blankets, adorned by plenty of pillows for the propping of legs, hips and elbows. Talk about adorable.
Wise Buck provided the eats - DANIEL KFOURY
  • Daniel Kfoury
  • Wise Buck provided the eats
Bearskin rugs, cornhole, mini cornhole, giant beach balls, mini beach balls, string lights — you get the picture. There was no reason to leave. The SCENE encampment was the place to be until approximately 8:30 p.m., at which point everyone finally deserted to claim a spot in front of the stage among the masses, necks craning to catch a glimpse of Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats. Music blasted, several random audience members shook tambourines — which apparently is a thing — and dozens of beach balls flew overhead during the evening’s final performance. The show concluded with a display of fireworks, each boom seemingly perfectly choreographed to Queen’s “Under Pressure.”
Tim Logan and Patrick Emerson poured super-size sips - DANIEL KFOURY
  • Daniel Kfoury
  • Tim Logan and Patrick Emerson poured super-size sips
It’s easy to understand why Spoleto SCENE continues to grow and attract new members. For $125, patrons gain access to specially discounted tickets for certain shows, and the best parties surrounding the festival. The Finale Party alone makes it worth the price. While I was really hoping to dig up some dirt or capture some Southern Charm worthy drama, the end result of a month’s worth of partying with the cool kids is this: SCENEsters are just like us; they are approachable, interesting, and smart for recognizing this unique opportunity afforded to them. Do yourself a favor and become a patron next year. Then perhaps you too can make out with a life-size bottle of French wine. 

  • Daniel Kfoury
Shannon Loughran and Emily Kotarski - DANIEL KFOURY
  • Daniel Kfoury
  • Shannon Loughran and Emily Kotarski
  • Daniel Kfoury
  • The SCENE Patron wall

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Saturday, June 11, 2016

Spoleto has an identity crisis with Golem, Opposing Forces

Who Are You?

Posted by Chris Haire on Sat, Jun 11, 2016 at 3:41 PM

During the final week of Spoleto, the arts festival found itself in a bit of quandary. With the bulk of the fest behind it, and after exploring the black experience for days on end, Spoleto was having an identity crisis.

Now mind you, it wasn't your typical identity crisis. If you can attach sentiences to something like an arts festival, Spoleto knows exactly who and what it is: a world-class celebration of dance, theater, jazz, classical music, and opera.

This identity crisis was of a different sort entirely, for the question of identity was very much at the heart of this week's offerings, from Gate Theater's production of The Importance of Being Earnest and its well-crafted stage to A Gambler's Guide to Dying in which writer/actor Gary McNair tries to present an honest portrait of a larger-than-life man but only further adds to the myth-making.

No other performance tackled the subject of identity with more introspective gusto than choreographer Amy O'Neal's breakdancing think piece Opposing Forces. With five dancers of different ethnic backgrounds under her charge, O'Neal crafted a clever, thrilling, and occasionally too plodding examination of masculinity and femininity, a feat she somehow managed to do using only male dancers.

While the deejay WD4D provided the musical backdrop and a series of interviews directly addressed the central subject of gender stereotypes and sexual identity, Opposing Forces asked the audience to question their beliefs via a rather novel approach: she took old-school B-Boys, breakdancers if you will, and had them dance in a manner that we would consider more feminine. Admittedly, it was strange to see a burly B-Boy dance with all the tender and fragile grace of a ballerina, but the movement was still just as beautiful.

And therein lies O'Neal's central conceit: there is no masculine style of dancing and no feminine style of dancing. It is all just dancing and it is all just an expression of how a specific individual feels.

Some might talk of individuals being on a gender-identity spectrum, and that is all well and good. (We can dismiss the fascists who believe that gender identity is fixed from birth, and believe you me, this applies to both the straight and LGBT communities.) However, O'Neal suggests the possibility that the spectrum itself is a self-imposed prison as much as traditional male-female gender roles. 

Sadly, and at least judging by the opening night performance, far too few Spoletians saw this bold, thought-provoking performance. Perhaps those who attended the show hyped it to their friends, families, and potential ticket-holders and the remaining performances of Opposing Forces was packed, I don't know. I certainly hope that was the case. But to be quite honest with you, the hip-hop elements of O'Neal's show may not have appealed to a sizable segment of the Spoleto audience. Regardless, I would very much like to see the festival continue to publicly debate whether or not breakdancing is a part of its identity. I think it very much is, especially if the same care is put into the work as O'Neal and her dancers put into theirs. 

Questions about identity, specifically questions about the nature of individualism, are of chief concern in the theatrical troupe 1927's Golem, a Frankensteinian tale about the dangers of technology-driven consumerism. (And yes, I know that Mary Shelley's Frankenstein owes a tremendous debt to the Jewish mythology of the golem. In this case, "Frankensteinian" is simply a more effective shorthand.) 

Much like 1927's previous Spoleto offerings, The Animals and Children Took to the Streets and Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Golem combined live music and acting with animation to a delirious and delightful affect.

As usual, the mechanics behind the troupe's latest production was a marvel to behold. But the central conceit of the work — namely, that smart phones and Amazon.com were turning us into mindless consumers — was one that would have seemed far more biting had it been released at the turn of the millennium during the glory days of Adbusters and with the cinematic release of Fight Club. Golem's critique was far too simple, ignoring the ways that the iPhone, the iPad, and their imitators have fundamentally changed society. 

Yes, there are cookies that track your every purchase and search, and they're being used to curate a list of products to sell to you that are unique to you, but few view that application of technology as being particularly intrusive or threatening. After all, we still have to order the products they're selling. We don't just buy everything that is thrown in our faces. 

As fascinating and fun and funny as Golem was — it was certainly worthy of applause and praise — I wished 1927 had really pushed their explorations even further, addressing the impact of social media, constant political propaganda, and a never-ending supply of free porn has on the lives on smart phone and tablet owners. The internet has put our every desire, or at least some facsimile thereof, in our very hands, and it all can be had with a simple tap of a button.

The internet doesn't dictate to us who we are and what we do. It amplifies who we are and what we do. It unlocks the doors that once prevented us from exploring whatever subject we wanted, it destroys societal taboos, it frees us to say and do whatever we like, and it does so to both good and evil ends. Our technology is a blessing and a curse. It perverts and it empowers. But in the end, there is no question what it has revealed to us, both collectively and individually. It has shown us our true selves. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Tickets will not be available at the Spoleto Finale gates

Get 'em while they're hot

Posted by Connelly Hardaway on Fri, Jun 10, 2016 at 11:58 AM

  • Julia Lynn
If you're planning on heading out to the Spoleto Finale at Middleton Place on Sunday, make sure to buy your finale tickets beforehand. Due to strong advance sales, Spoleto has decided not to sell tickets to the finale at the door. Tickets will be available for purchase online until  11:59 p.m. on Saturday, and will call pickup is available at the gates, although long lines are to be expected. Gates open at 3:30 p.m.

For more on the show's headlining act, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, check out our preview. And if you need help packing a picnic basket, read some of our best tips here. 

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