Recommended Events this Week 

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ART | From Sydney, with love
Ipseity
Sat. Sept. 8, 6-9 p.m.
Spark Studios and Gallery
12 Hagood Ave.
Downtown
(843) 577-6906
www.WaseemTouma.com

Hopefully last week's Fall Arts Preview got you all geared up to start acting more like an art patron, and you've got the perfect opportunity this weekend, with several local galleries opening exhibitions. On Saturday night, Spark Studios on Hagood Avenue will open one of the more unique shows in town, featuring Waseem Touma's paintings, sculptures, and installations. Born of Lebanese parents in Sydney, Australia, Touma moved to the States in college, after being offered a scholarship at Kansas City Art Institute (where Spark owner Daniel McSweeney first met up with him). In 2003, he moved to Kentucky, where he earned his Master of Fine Arts at the University of Kentucky. Touma's work strongly reflects his diverse cultural background, which is why McSweeney named the show Ipseity (Ip-see-it-ee), which means "individual identity." After a serious car accident in 2002, which left him with spinal injuries and chronic back pain, Touma's work has emphasized the complex infrastructure that makes up the human body, and the importance of each element that makes up the whole. "Fundamental individual elements are what makes life function," Touma says. "My work is an imaginary vision of what 'life' may look like." Check out some of Touma's work at his website, and meet him at Saturday's reception, where McSweeney will serve his unforgettable hummus. After the show, head over to Modernisme in West Ashley, where they'll be kicking off their one-year anniversary with an opening reception of iShow: You are Where, showing seven Modernisme artists from 6-9 p.m. If Saturday's not good for you, Redux presents their first exhibition of the season, Reorientation, on Friday from 5:30-8:30 p.m. —Erica Jackson SATURDAY

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CONCERT | Dig the new breed of jazz
The Fast Citizens
w/ Keefe Jackson
Tues. Sept. 11
8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
$10
Redux Contemporary Art Center
136 St. Philip St.
(843) 722-3525
www.reduxstudios.org

Presenting their first in a series of fall season performances, Charleston-based New Music Collective welcomes dapper Chicago jazz/improv ensemble The Fast Citizens to the Redux stage this Tuesday. Led by acclaimed saxophonist Keefe Jackson, an Arkansas native who hit the Windy City jazz scene in the early 2000s, the group "explore the boundaries between composition and improvisation" with a few dashes of Mingus, Sun Ra, Ornette, and Miles. The Citizens are comprised of a "who's who" of the fiery underground Chicago jazz scene: saxophonist Aram Shelton (of Dragons 1976 and Grey Ghost), cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm (of the Vandermark Five, Joe McPhee, Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet), cornettist Josh Berman (of Chicago Luzern Exchange, Rob Mazurek's Exploding Star Orchestra), drummer Frank Rosaly (of Rob Mazurek's Manda-rin Movie), and bassist Anton Hatwich (of the Dave Rempis Percussion Quartet, Wrack). "The Fast Citizens are an amazing sextet that specialize in making music somewhere between the lines of improvised jazz, composed chamber music, and creative music in general," says NMC artistic director Nathan Koci. "We're very excited to have them make their Charleston debut." Jackson has recordings available on Delmark and Bloody Murder labels. The band will perform sets on the Print Studio Stage — one at 8 p.m. and another at 10 p.m. Visit www.newmusiccollective.org and www.myspace.com/keefejacksonsfastcitizens for more information and hot audio. —T. Ballard Lesemann TUESDAY

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BOOKS | Everybody else is doing it
The Big Read Kick-off
Sun. Sept. 9
2 and 4 p.m.
Free
Gaillard Auditorium and
Simons Center for the Arts
(843) 805-6930
www.ccpl.org

We've all got that bright-eyed idealist within us that wants to believe in the power of art to save the world, but rarely do we clearly see its impact. This Sunday is the start of a five-week long event that seeks to celebrate diversity, increase literacy, and bring the community together — all over one book. And so far it looks like it's going to be a powerful event. The Big Read is an initiative by the National Endowment for the Arts, and Charleston was one of 117 counties nation-wide chosen to launch the project. Zora Neale Hurston's classic novel Their Eyes Were Watching God is the book you should find in everyone's hands this fall — and don't worry, the library has hundreds of extra copies ready for your perusal. The Charleston County Public Library is hosting the event, and an impressive number of local organizations — government, military, schools, businesses — have teamed up to present nearly 70 events to take place throughout the month, ranging from plays to music to lectures highlighting the author and the Harlem Rennaisance. Which brings us to Zora Neale Hurston: her life story is perhaps more fascinating than her acclaimed novel. She was a black writer in the 1920s, very involved in the New York arts scene, but achieved little recognition during her lifetime — she died in a welfare home and was buried in an unmarked grave. Years later, Alice Walker (of The Color Purple fame) discovered Hurston's work while doing research and wrote about the author in an article for Ms. magazine in the '70s. This sparked the long-overdue recognition of Hurston, who is now studied in college classrooms. The book itself (which Oprah made into a movie starring Halle Berry) tells the story of a young black woman struggling to find her voice, identity, and the true meaning of love. The Big Read kicks off on Sunday with a performance of Gullah and gospel tunes by Ann Caldwell and the Magnolia Singers on the Gaillard lawn at 2 p.m. Afterwards, Hurston's niece, Lucy Ann Hurston, will share the amazing story of her aunt's life at Simons Center for the Arts from 4-6 p.m. So crack that book open and start reading. —Erica Jackson SUNDAY

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THEATRE | Broadway at the beach
Gershwin at Folly
Sept. 5, 7, 8, 13-15, 20-22, 8 p.m.
Sept. 6, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9, 16, 23, 3 p.m.
Sottile Theatre
44 George St.
Downtown
$36.50, $34.50/seniors, $26.50/students
(843) 577-7183

George Gershwin once said that if it hadn't been for a laxative chewing gum, he never would have written Porgy and Bess. "Feen-a-Mint" sponsored his radio show, which in turn gave him the financial stability to start writing Porgy with author DuBose Heyward on Folly Beach. From mid-June to mid-July 1934, Gershwin stayed in a cottage opposite Heyward's summer home, Follywood — and he didn't have to pay for parking. The working vacation is the subject of Gershwin at Folly, which was Charleston Stage's most successful show when it premiered in 2003. Book and direction are by Julian Wiles (Nevermore, The Seat of Justice); featured tunes include "Summertime," "I Got Rhythm," and "Someone to Watch Over Me." For this revamped version of his show, Wiles plans a bigger-than-ever 1930s musical style production with the familiar music and Edge of America locale to help hold the audience spellbound. New York actor/musician Barry Anderson portrays Gershwin. J.C. Conway is DuBose Heyward, and Beth Curley plays his wife, Dorothy. The Folly rerun opens Charleston Stage's 30th season. It's also the first show of the regular season to be performed at the Sottile Theatre, a move from Charleston Stage's regular home on Church Street. Audiences are advised to leave their chewing gum at home. —Nick Smith OPENS WEDNESDAY

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THEATRE | Life ain't always a picnic
Picnic
Sept. 7, 8, 13-15, 21, 22, 8 p.m.
Sept. 16, 5 p.m.
$22/adults, $20/seniors and students, $12/children 12-17
Village Playhouse
730 Coleman Blvd.
Mt. Pleasant
(843) 856-1579
www.VillagePlayhouse.com

Continuing their tradition of staging groundbreaking plays from the past century, the Village Repertory Company opens its seventh season with the award-winning drama Picnic by William Inge. The play was a hit when it premiered in 1953, winning numerous awards including the Pulitzer for Drama, and when it was made into a movie two years later, it gained even more attention, winning two Oscars and a Golden Globe. The stage version is set on two neighboring front porches in small-town Kansas, looking at the dramatic changes that take place when a handsome drifter enters the idyllic, white-picket-fence world. Picnic had, and still has, such an impact with audiences because of its frank depiction of sexuality and its disillusioned take on the happy ending/love conquers all stereotype. If their past success with Tennessee Williams' dark plays are any indication, the Village folks should be just find handling the classic Picnic. —Erica Jackson OPENS FRIDAY

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FILM | Beautifully strange
Southern Film Circuit
Fri. Sept. 7
8 p.m.
Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art
Simons Center for the Arts
54 St. Philip St.
Downtown
Free
(843) 953-5680

For 30 years the S.C. Arts Commission has been supporting regional film with its Southern Circuit series. But the lack of willing screening venues here has kept the series out of Charleston. That will change this week when the Halsey Institute starts a program of experimental shorts, documentaries, and dramas culled from the circuit. The series enables moviemakers to travel with their projects, so not only do we get to see the award-winning puppet piece Startle Pattern, but we also get to meet its cheerfully low-tech director, Eric Patrick. The ex-Blues Clues animator uses stop-motion animation, film, time-lapse photography and hand-edited frames in his work. Surrealism doesn't begin to describe the unearthly, beautifully strange results. Patrick's won awards from film festivals like South by Southwest, Big Muddy, Black Maria, Humboldt International, and Ann Arbor; he serves as a strong (if unrepresentative) introduction to Southern Circuit. The series as a whole is a departure for the Halsey, which has shown one-off art films in the past but has never made a commitment to an independent film tour like this one. If it's a hit, the gallery hopes to host future screenings and become part of the selection process. With a regular slot the series has the potential to inspire, entertain, and become a noteworthy part of Charleston's cultural scene. —Nick Smith FRIDAY

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