Running Spoleto Diary
One word: extraordinary. Traces isn’t just the best thing I’ve seen this Spoleto, but probably the best thing I’ve seen in all my Spoletos. Remarkable physical strength is on display here, but it’s so much more than that. The show is hilarious (one young kid adorably fell into an uncontrollable fit of hysterics throughout an entire section), graceful, interesting, powerful, and sexy as all get out. You connect with each performer in such an individual way that you feel like you personally know them by the final act. But of course, that’s what after parties are for. Guests were star-stuck with the performers at the Traces after party on Legare Street, asking for free hugs and even more direct questions like, “Can I touch you?” It’s a fair question…these guys (and gal) show us the astounding things the human is capable of. Although you probably don’t want to try it at home. If you haven’t seen Traces, do yourself a big favor and go to the final performance at 2pm today.
Our arty barometer says: Ever wanted to run away with the circus? You will now.
The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs
Easily the best thing I’ve seen so far this Spoleto. There is something astounding about one man who can monologue to you for two hours straight, make you laugh to the point of tears, make you silent with grief, and leave you with profound revelations that will leave you thinking for days and more likely years to come. Kudos to Mike Daisey. From hilarious rants about Power Point and the tech-obsessed geek in all of us, to revelations about corporate suicides and poignant metaphors like blood rising up from your Mac keyboard, he perfectly balances the tale of brilliance versus evil in a way that makes you want to go home and Google the hell out of Apple. And of course, therein lies the irony.
Our arty barometer says: Hilarious, sharp, profound in a relatable way. Just turn your iPhone off.
**Mike Daisey is performing a new, never-before-seen monologue on Wednesday night, June 6, 8:00pm at Emmett Robinson Theatre. He yanked his previously scheduled show in exchange for what he says is “the right story to tell right now.” Very mysterious, no one knows what it will be. After tonight’s performance, bet it won’t disappoint. Get tickets here.
Perfectly Normel People
We’ll be the first to admit that it doesn’t take much to make our tiny little hearts swell: good wine, great food, Mac products. But right near the top has to be when amazing, talented locals realize their dreams. Sitting in the final (for now) sold-out performance of Perfectly Normel People at Footlight, we had ginormous, geeky grins on our faces, from the presence of the Blessed Mother Mary, to the silent-but-deadly-lovable Pops, to the reunion of teenage love. Plus every Italian stereotype that one dinner table in center stage can fit. It’s hard to tell who the show-stopper was. We immediately fell in love with Hadley, a.k.a. “Lefty,” played by Daniel Radcliffesque CofC student Bronson Taylor. Frankie (Tripp Hamilton) is a contender for sure, with his second-nature delivery and huge knockers. And let’s not forget Connie Normellino (Paulette Bertolami), who would remind you of your own mother and has a pretty good arm. But, we think we’d have to choose Johnny, played by director and co-writer, Thomas Burke Heath. In a Queens’ version of Kenickie, Heath rocked the role of the loud, obnoxious Italian stallion, resulting in only soaring laughter from the audience. In their second original play to hit Charleston stages, Thomas and his wife/50 Most Progressive alum, Judy, know how to feed a large crowd. It’s official. Paisans for life.
Our arty barometer says: Don’t wear a belt.
Joy Kills Sorrow
There is nothing like a show at the Cistern. Why, oh why, does it only happen during Spoleto? It almost doesn’t even matter who’s performing. Although last night it did. Joy Kills Sorrow is the kind of band the Cistern is made for. That sweet, melodic voice lulls you in a complete state of bliss, right there under the stars. There was some good hooting and hollering from the audience (although no dancing…what is with the Spoleto crowd and their refusal to dance?), and the band played right into it. While the lead vocals steal the show (don’t they always?), I was more captured by the other band mates and felt a tinge of jealousy for front-row-seaters who got to see their fast fingers at work up close. Bottom line…whether you think you’re a fan or not, Joy Kills Sorrow is fantastic live at the Cistern. B.Y.O.Blanket.
Our arty barometer says: You don’t have to be arty to love this show.
Leo – Circle of Eleven
“It’s velcro. It’s two different people. No, it’s a mirror.” Or so went the running commentary behind me from two mystified “seasoned” Spoleto patrons, throughout the entire show. What normally would have driven me up a wall (pun intended), only made me smile. “Haven’t you all seen the Jamiroquai video?” Probs not. “Lionel Richie?” Let me back up. The audience at Leo was presented with a man, three panels representing a floor and two walls, and a giant video projection of the setup… only rotated on its side. What followed, was an hour of performer Tobias Wegner dancing, wiggling, jumping and even swimming up “the walls” within the confines of his imagination. I don’t know what the hell it represented, but who cares, it was a blast. Part of the fun came from watching the two performances together, the reality and the perception. With no dialogue, save for a few hollers and yelps, surprisingly it never got old. Thanks in part some projected animation to break up the monotony and trance-inducing beat in the third act.
My only critique would be the crude animation presented in the second act. Something more graphic and less cartoony would have been a nice touch. But Wegner’s physical prowess, impeccable timing and charming persona went far to make up for any slight missteps. While I think Spoleto audiences are quick to jump to their feet for a standing ovation, this one was well deserved.
Our arty barometer says: Climbing up the walls with joy.
Charleston, a Love Letter (Piccolo)
Surely anyone who lives here realizes how lucky we are to call this place home. Experiencing “Charleston, a Love Letter” is the sort of thing that puts a big, bold underscore beneath the word “lucky.”
Local filmmaker Justin Nathanson has expertly captured the essence of what makes this city special while showcasing his skill behind the camera. The film takes the audience through scenes both intimate and open, paying reverence to those blink-and-you-miss-them moments of everyday life: the calm crash of waves on surfers at Folly, the frenetic energy of a street parade, the solemnity of a graveside service, the neon-tinged glow of the arts scene. While the film is silent, the musicians with Entropy Ensemble have crafted a score (played live) that is the perfect accompaniment to the imagery onscreen, flowing and emoting sounds that are poignant, uplifting, and exuberant. “Charleston, a Love Letter” encourages us to slow down, to savor each day and each moment. After all, we do have the good fortune to live in the greatest place in the world.
Our arty barometer says: Love. Watch out for future local showings of this one.
Happy Spoleto! There are a lot of round-ups out there on what to see during our great annual arty fest, so we’re doing things a bit differently. Instead, we’re going to keep a running diary of the best shows we’re seeing – as we’re seeing them – throughout Spoleto and Piccolo. And because we always think that the best reviewer is you, we’re opening it up to you, fine readers. Consider this a collaborative community diary open for all to read. To participate, simply email a short blurb about a show you saw (and loved) to email@example.com. Check back here often throughout the Festival for all the juicy best-of-the-best shows!
And, okaaay…just to get you started, here are a few of the shows on our personal “don’t miss” list: Charleston: A Love Letter, Hay Fever, Perfectly Normel People, Return to the Sea: Saltworks, Leo, Joy Kills Sorrow, Rebirth Brass Band, The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, Traces, Jake Shimabukuro, A Crack in Everything, the Piccolo finale and the Spoleto finale (there will be a CHARLIE bus to and fro the Spoleto finale! Stay tuned for details to hop on board). Enjoy!