Jasper Magazine Welcomes New Theatre Editor - Frank Thompson

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The Jasper Project is delighted to announce the addition of Frank Thompson to the editorial staff of Jasper Magazine effective immediately. Frank will serve in the role of Theatre Editor. You can learn more about Frank below.

FRANK THOMPSON holds a BA from The University of Alabama, and a JD from Cumberland School of Law. Originally from Alabama, Frank's two great passions in life have always been writing and the theatre, and he is excited to embark on this new journey, combining the two.

Frank had an auspicious start to his writing career at age 8, with a story printed in an ARCHIE comic book, to the far loftier achievement of having his short story, 'Que, published in A SENSE OF THE MIDLANDS by Muddy Ford Press, Frank has never stopped scribbling down his thoughts and hoping someone will read them. Along the way, he has written several plays for children, produced by Tuscaloosa Children's Theatre, (more years ago than he cares to admit,) short essays and observations for his college newspaper, radio comedy and original sketches for Tuscaloosa's Z-102 and FOX96 radio stations, where he also worked as on-air talent, theatre reviews for the Birmingham theatre website, (ebhm.org), local spots for WBHM, (Birmingham's NPR affiliate), and is currently working on his first book, tentatively titled "A CANCER SPOUSE'S SURVIVAL GUIDE," chronicling his wife's successful battle with breast cancer, from a husband/caretaker's point of view.

In the Columbia blogosphere, Frank's writing can be found on "The Goodlife Blog" for Goodwill Industries "Broke In Columbia," and in JASPER.

Theatrically, Frank has performed professionally with THE LOST COLONY, Birmingham Childrens' Theatre, and was cast as General Glossop in the first non-Equity national tour of JEKYLL & HYDE, again, more years ago than he prefers to recall. Before moving to Columbia in 2010, Frank was active since childhood in the the Birmingham, AL, theatre community, serving seven years as Artistic Director for CenterStage, and three years in the same capacity with Theatre LJCC. As a performer, his favourite roles include Freddie in NOISES OFF, The Proprietor in ASSASSINS, Igor in YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, Thurston Howell III in GILLIGAN"S ISLAND:THE MUSICAL, and Gomez Addams in THE ADDAMS FAMILY: THE MUSICAL.

Directorially, he is most proud of his work on THE KING AND I, and CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF (Birmingham), and AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS, CHICAGO, Ho! Ho! Ho!, and PEOPLE ARE STRANGE, a cabaret which he produced and co-wrote (Columbia.)

Frank is proud to serve as Vice-President of Workshop Theatre's Board of Trustees, and has presented his one-week sketch comedy class, "Funny By Friday" at Trustus Theatre and Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County.

He is also a Certified Teaching Artist with South Carolina Arts Commission.

A Conversation with Heathcliff

Jasper noticed a new face on the performance art scene and thought we should remember our manners and give him a proper welcome and introduction. Here's a peek at a conversation we just had with this lovely older gentleman, Heathcliff.

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Hi Heathcliff! We understand that you’re having a show this weekend at Trustus Theatre and we thought you might want to introduce yourself to the Jasper readers. Would that be OK?

 

JASPER: Can you tell us how old you are, where you’re from, and how you ended up in Columbia, SC?

HEATHCLIFF: Absolutely. Now, Cindi, most of my pictures make me seem younger, but I am actually 78 years old and have the wig to prove it. I don’t want to give away the particulars of my birth as my show will elaborate on that topic via shadow puppetry. I try to explain everything with shadow puppetry if I can help it - you should see the first draft of my answers to these questions! As for how I ended up in Columbia, my accompanist Wanda has spoken of its smiling faces and beautiful places for quite some time. I had to come see what all the fuss is about!

 

JASPER:  What line of work are you in and what do you like most about it?

HEATHCLIFF:  I suppose it could be considered more of a square and less of a line, but I am in the storytelling and empathy business. I think we are all young at heart, and I love giving people permission to exist in a ridiculous world for a time. Right now more than ever, we need to be reminded of our unique capacity to enjoy each other’s company.

 

JASPER:  As a gentleman of advanced age you must have some great memories. Will you share a little something special with our readers?

HEATHCLIFF: Yes, there was this one time…(falls asleep)

 

JASPER:  You also must have met lots of famous people – do you know Diane Keaton perchance? What do you think about her?

HEATHCLIFF: Oh my goodness, yes. Diane is an old friend - we share a mutual love of clown paintings, and she is directly responsible for my leaving the business for a decade. I don’t hold it against her because she was trying to help - I will go into more direct detail in my show. Diane, if you’re reading this, no hard feelings.

 

JASPER:  Now, who is Wanda and why is she horning in on your show?

HEATHCLIFF: I actually play the horn in the show! Wanda is the lovable green squeak toy with a smile in the picture. She is my accompanist and soul mate, and she can play any instrument in the world. She is shy so she normally pre-records everything for our shows. She also was rumored to have had a secret affair with Tom Jones in the 70s, but I’ll let her tell you about that.

 

JASPER:  On a scale of 1 – 17, with 1 being boring and 17 being whoopee, how naughty will your show be this weekend?

HEATHCLIFF: I leave the math to my team of accountants, but I will say that I believe humor is the best medicine. If you weaponize humor or constantly go for the low hanging fruit, it turns into something that can actually make you unhealthy. But since I’m old, I have to occasionally reach for the apple that’s in front of me. Now I’m hungry. The short answer is, there are no swear words or “blue humor” as we used to call it. I’d rate it PG: Probably Good.

 

JASPER:  I think we may have some mutual acquaintances. Have you ever heard of a fellow who goes by the name of Jonathan Monk and a lady named Krista Forster? What do you know about these folks?

HEATHCLIFF: Oh my goodness! Jonathan Monk is my manager, though we never seem to be in the same place at the same time. Krista Forster looks shockingly similar to my distant relative Sheila Murphy of Janitorial Services. These two, I’m told, have been working to devise a new comedic piece in town - I can’t wait to see it.

 

JASPER: Anything else you’d like to tell our readers about your upcoming show?

HEATHCLIFF/JONATHAN MONK: Hi Cindi, this is Jonathan Monk. Heathcliff had to make an emergency trip to Zesto’s. Regarding the show, I’d like to say this is a fantastic opportunity for me to continue to explore a character I created in 2003 during my time as a Musical Theatre major at Carnegie Mellon. While Heathcliff the character is known for his embellishments regarding the truth, I have been fortunate enough to perform as Heathcliff in Pittsburgh at The Andy Warhol Museum, in NYC at Emerging Artists Theatre, Don’t Tell Mama and 54 Below, and in Martha’s Vineyard at the Grange Hall Theatre. What’s exciting to me about this new show is this is the first time Heathcliff has incorporated other human characters. Wanda (his accompanist) is a puppet, so it’s refreshing to be able to discover and interact with other characters in Heathcliff’s world: a mix of Mister Rogers, Pee Wee’s Playhouse and Andy Kaufman, with a dash of Red Skelton. I am thankful and excited to be able to premiere a new Heathcliff show here in my hometown!

 

Shows are this Friday at 11:15pm, Saturday at 3pm, and Saturday at 8pm. Tickets are $10 / each and will be sold at the door.
http://trustus.org/event/healthcliff/

 

Cindi Boiter is the executive director of the Jasper Project and a big fan of new performing arts. Reach her at Cindi@JasperColumbia.com

CALL for Poetry

News from the North Carolina Poetry Society


Submissions are now open (May 1 – July 31) for the Susan Laughter Meyers Poetry Fellowshipat Weymouth. North and South Carolina poets (age 18 and over) are eligible to apply. Check the NCPS website for details and the link to Submittable: http://www.ncpoetrysociety.org/meyers-fellowship/

The merit-based fellowship, co-sponsored by the NC Poetry Society (NCPS) and Weymouth Center honors the life and work of Susan Laughter Meyers (1945-2017). The recipient will be awarded a one-week stay at the Weymouth Center in Southern Pines, North Carolina, a $500.00 stipend, publication of a poem in Pinesong (NCPS’s annual anthology of award-winning poems), and an opportunity to read or present a program at an NCPS meeting at Weymouth.

CALL for Photography - Indie Grits Labs

Indie Grits Labs is seeking work from emerging Southern artists that addresses and challenges the social, cultural, and physical landscapes of the South through photographic media.

Submission Information

Submission Deadline: July 2, 2018
Entry fee: $5.00 – Purchase through our shop
Notification of Acceptance: July 12
Opening Reception: July 26 at Indie Grits Labs | 1013 Duke Ave.

All Images will be printed center weighted on a 13×19 sheet by Indie Grits Labs.

Prints will be available for sale through Indie Grits Labs. We are suggesting a 30% commision on all sales to be put towards future juried exhibitions and educational opportunities. Prices will be established upon acceptance into the exhibition.

You can submit anywhere from 1-5 photos for the $5.00 fee.

 

Submission Guidelines

All Submissions should be included in one email to exhibitions@indiegrits.org

Subject Line: “Submission: Southern Disposition”
In the body of the email:
Your Name
Titles of Pieces Submitted
1 to 2 sentences about your work if desired
Link to Website
Entry Fee Screenshot/Receipt

File Requirements

1 to 5 images: .jpgs, 1000px on the longest side, 72ppi, sRGB color space
File Name Format: lastname_disposition_1.jpg

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Conundrum and ifArt Host Concert

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Id M Theft Able & Reflex Arc @ ifArt on June 25

 

 

Conundrum Music Productions is pleased to announce a concert by the Portland Maine noise artist Id M Theft Able, at ifArt Gallery on Monday, June 25.   Sharing the bill will be Reflex Arc and bigSphinx.

 

Id M Theft Able performs within and without the realms of noise, avant improvisation, sound poetry, and performance using voice, found objects, electronics, and whatever else is available. He has given hundreds of performances across 4 continents in settings ranging from the humblest of squats to the fanciest of festivals.

 

Reflex Arc is a two-piece experimental & improvisational band from Raleigh, NC. Crowmeat Bob plays a variety of horns & sometimes electric guitar while Ginger Wagg plays a variety of body parts, spaces and emotional states.

 

bigSphinx is a solo project of local laptop improvisor Tom Law.

 

The door will open at 8:00pm, and a $7 admission fee will be collected at that door.  The music will commence at 8:30pm.  ifArt Gallery is situated at 1223 Lincoln Street, Columbia, South Carolina 29201.   Further information can be obtained on the World Wide Web at conundrum.us, or by using a telephone to dial (803) 250-1295. 

 

 

Id M Theft Able: https://idmtheftable.bandcamp.com/

Reflex Arc: http://www.gingerwagg.com/reflex-arc

bigSphinx: http://bigsphinx.com/tomlaw.html

News from the Rosewood Art & Music Festival -- OPEN CALL to Artists & Poets

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Calling all painters, sculptures, photographers, upcycled artists, potters and more for the 8th annual Rosewood Art and Music Festival

Applications open June 1, 2018.

Professional, amateur & emerging creators may complete the free application online at RosewoodFestival.com June 1st to August 1st.  

Artists may apply to participate in multiple activities; Exhibitor, Pop-up Gallery/Juried Show and/or Poetry contest. Application, Categories and Guidelines are found online at RosewoodFestival.com

 

On the application Exhibitors will select either individual booth or communal visual arts tent. The communal visual arts tent is a shared space for artists who may be new to the festival scene, have a smaller body of work, or may prefer to live paint.

The Pop-up/Juried Tent is for two-dimensional and three-dimensional visual artists ready to compete for over $2000 in prizes.

The Poetry contest is for writers and poets seeking to be published and more.

On Saturday September 29, 2018, from 11am-7pm, thousands will descend into the Rosewood Neighborhood of Columbia, SC for the 8th Rosewood Art & Music Festival. Multiple stages with live music throughout the day provides a pleasant festival experience. Sit and listen, grab your dance shoes, or simply enjoy the sounds as you take in the visual arts and celebrate Southern arts and culture.

REVIEW: Hir at Trustus Theatre is an exceptional study in cultural constructs

By Cindi Boiter

 Libby Campbell stars in Hir

Libby Campbell stars in Hir

Taylor Mac’s dark comedy Hir, playing at Trustus Theatre’s Richard and Debbie Cohn Side Door Theatre, is a play not everyone in Columbia is going to be ready for. And that’s a shame. Because mixed into the comedy and irony and more than a few truly exquisite lines of dialogue may be some answers to the questions so many of us keep raising our fists to the sky and shouting. Questions like How, as in How did our culture get into the mess we’re in? And What, as in What are we going to do fix it?

But playwright Taylor Mac, also an author, actor, singer-songwriter, director, drag artist, Pulitzer Prize finalist, MacArthur fellow, and recipient of a slew of additional accolades, knows something not all of us want to admit, and something some of us aren’t even capable of understanding – that the culture we have constructed isn’t working, it hasn’t worked for a long time, and it may have never worked very well to begin with.

We enter into the world of Hir after the protagonist Paige, played brilliantly by Libby Campbell-Turner, has already made this realization. Having bought into the American dream of a house in the suburbs, a cookie-cutter marriage, and two darling boys supposedly guaranteeing a happily-ever-after, Paige has already found the folly in her actions given that her husband has inflicted pretty much every kind of abuse at his disposal on her, one of her sons is an arrogant young transsexual, the other a washed up military man with a penchant for doing drugs in all the wrong places (you’ll get this later), and home-sweet-home is built on a landfill, complete with clandestine pipes emitting dangerous gases. But rather than fight the reality as it presents itself to her, as so many Americans are wont to do, Paige has not only accepted, but embraced her new reality and at times appears to celebrate it.  

When her oldest son Isaac, played by Tristan Pack, returns from war to find the family unit he left behind in a state of comfortable chaos, (Dad had a stroke and appears on stage at curtain wearing clown make-up and a lady’s housecoat, his sister is now his brother, and all housekeeping has been abandoned), Paige and Isaac clash over her newly open-minded life philosophy. In trying to reassert the patriarchal structure that governed the family prior to his leaving he enlists the aid of his brother Max, played by Sebastian Liafsha, who had previously rejected all gender roles prescriptions but suddenly declares himself trans-masculine. Isaac relies on the tried and true performative guideposts of masculinity—rhetoric, denigration, intimidation, confederation, and, ultimately, violence—in his attempts to restore what he considers order to the household. But in a jaw-dropping final scene Mac exposes patriarchy for the paper tiger anyone who has ever studied the social sciences knows it to be. A simple human construct and nothing more.

Directed by Lindsay Rae Taylor, a third-year MFA Directing Candidate at USC with a pedigree that belies her academic status, (the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and Tisch), there is great nuance in Campbell’s treatment of Paige and it’s easy to see these two powerhouse theatrical artists working well together. Campbell brings the personal insight of having grown to maturity enduring the silliness of performative masculinity her whole damn life and applies that experience to her interpretation of Paige. While her performance teeters toward madcap at times, and the character could have been played closer to unhinged, Campbell keeps her version of Paige grounded, self-aware. In many ways Paige is a feminist prophet and Campbell plays the prophet comfortably.

Cleverly enough, it is Max’s story (previously Maxine’s) that provides the foundation on which the larger story is built. Liafsha, a student at White Knoll High School, is a charismatic young actor who plays Max as youthfully arrogant about hir enlightenment. It is from Max that Paige learns key terms that help her navigate the “paradigm shifts” of her new world. In fact, it is the adaptation of the newly created pronoun hir, a combination of him and her, which gives the play its title.

Ripley Thames convincingly plays the role of stroke victim Arnold, Paige’s husband, with generosity and humility. Costume designer Jessica Bornick effectively dresses Thames’ character in just about as unflattering a costume as any man could manage wearing and Thames does it with ease. The chaos of the setting is created by Sam Hetler who keeps the audience on edge wondering if the players might fall into the dishevelment of the set or be squashed by a falling mattress.  Patrick Michael Kelly, Tyler Omundsen, and Logan Davies provide sound, lighting, and scenic design, and Barbara Smith is the stage manager.

It should also be said that this writer had the pleasure of seeing Taylor Mac perform three years ago at Spoleto Festival in Charleston and judy’s one-person cabaret show at the Woolfe Street Theatre was profoundly transgressive then. (Mac uses the pronoun judy rather than him/her.) The fact that Mac’s Hir is playing in Columbia at all is a telling tribute to Trustus Theatre and proof, once again, that Trustus is the shiny glint on the steel blade that keeps the Columbia performing arts scene in the 21st century.

See this play and talk about it when it’s over. Let yourself question the efficacy or futility of the constructs Hir draws into question—masculinity, homemaking, institutionalized education, college, and more, but mostly patriarchy and how “the whole alphabet of gender” undermines it so damningly.

Hir runs through June 9th and tickets are available at Trustus.org

 

Cindi Boiter is the executive director of The Jasper Project and editor of Jasper Magazine

PREVIEW: Together We Are Making a Poem in Honor of Life - Opening at Piccolo Spoleto Tonight

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Columbia natives Dean Poynor and Monica Wyche are returning to South Carolina this month, bringing a new play to 2018 Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, with their theatre collective, The Salvage Company.

 

Poynor and Wyche met years ago while both were company members at Trustus Theatre, where they performed together in BUG, THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, and WONDER OF THE WORLD, as well as with the We’re Not Your Mother’s Players improv comedy group.  Since then, Poynor has become an award-winning playwright with his plays produced in New York, Nashville, Minneapolis, and more. Wyche has worked steadily in film and TV, landing roles on shows including Law and Order:SVU, Blindspot, The Defenders, The Looming Tower, and a recurring role as ‘Rita Laslen’ on Hulu’s The Path.

 

The Salvage Company has performed in Australia, Key West, New York, and now returns to the Piccolo Spoleto Festival for the second time with Poynor’s staggering play, TOGETHER WE ARE MAKING A POEM IN HONOR OF LIFE.  The play follows a mother and father as they navigate a series of support group meetings after losing their child in a school shooting. Told in a fragmented storytelling style, this play follows them – both individually and together – as they struggle to remember what they’ve lost. But as they come closer to comprehending the tragic event that took their child, they find it more and more difficult to connect with each other. This intimate two-person drama explores what it means to be a parent in the face of unimaginable loss.

 

This play is Poynor’s personal response to the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and other acts of violence against children. Poynor says, “As a father, I am affected by these events in unexpected ways. I am especially interested in the idea of potential, and the grammatical construction ‘would have been.’  I recognize the hope and hopelessness buried in these words, and I believe the stories we tell become vital touchstones in answering the question of ‘How do we keep on going?’”

 

TOGETHER WE ARE MAKING A POEM IN HONOR OF LIFE is an immersive (but not interactive) theatrical experience, with the audience actually joining the actors in the circle of support group chairs. Because of this intimate staging, seating is limited to fifty people per performance.  Already, the Charleston City Paper has named the show one of the top three theatre performances to see at the festival. (https://m.charlestoncitypaper.com/CultureShock/archives/2018/05/01/piccolo-tickets-on-sale-now-heres-what-you-should-see)

 

A special invited preview for members of the Charleston chapter of Moms Demand Action will take place on Friday, May 25th, with a talkback after the show. Public performances will take place Saturday, May 26th at 2:00 and 7:00, Sunday, May 27th at 4:00, and Monday, May 28th at 7:00. Tickets are $21, and are available at www.piccolospoleto.com or at www.thesalvagecompany.com.

 

 

Review: Workshop Theatre's String of Pearls

Frank Thompson is a frequent theatre critic for JASPER, who is reviewing for his "home theatre.” Mr. Thompson wishes to freely disclose that he is employed as Box Office Manager for Workshop, is a frequent director with the company, and serves as Vice-President of the Board of Trustees. He has put on his blinders for what he thinks is a fair and unbiased review, and will do his best to deliver.

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STRING OF PEARLS

 Presented by Workshop Theatre at Columbia College’s Cottingham Theatre, runs this Wednesday-Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 3pm. Tickets can be purchased by calling (803) 799.6551

 

****

 

   A “McGuffin” is a term used mostly in film, to describe a single object or event around which a story revolves. The titular jewels in Workshop Theatre’s String Of Pearls serve just such a purpose, as a bevy of female characters find their disparate lives impacted by the temporary stewardship of a string of perfect pearls. Through the passing of several decades, we see the pearls elicit joy, sorrow, confusion, and hope, along with a multitude of different emotions and reactions from twenty-seven women, played by an ensemble of six actresses. Ellen Rodillo-Fowler, Cathy Carter Scott, Christine Hellman, Krista Forster, Sandra Suzette Hamlin-Rivers, and Alyssa Velazquez, each at the top of her game, manage to create believable, three-dimensional characters, some of whom we get to know quite well, and others we glimpse for only a moment or two. Each, however, helps to move along the plot, and there is scarcely a wasted word in the script, which makes for a streamlined, well-paced production.

  Director Zsuzsa Manna has obviously put a great deal of thought and research into bringing each character, no matter how minor, into her overall vision. Watching the chameleon-like changes each actress made physically, vocally, and stylistically, truly created the illusion of a much larger cast. (Having known, and/or worked with most of the cast, even I had to occasionally squint and ask myself “now which one is that?”) Special commendation to Costume Designer Alexis Docktor, who created multiple eras and class levels, each of which were appealing and period-appropriate. Helping her create the magic is Wig Designer, Christine Hellman, whose skills clearly are not limited to performing. At one point, Velasquez, a natural brunette, sported thick, flowing, blonde locks that could have easily passed for a 1970s’ Farrah Fawcett hairdo, and Rodillo-Fowler’s scruffy pink punk ‘do is a true work of retro art.

   The set is simple, but effective. Two small platforms, a handful of moderately-sized props, and two elegant sheer curtains provide the representation for dozens of locales. Minimalism works well with this script, allowing the acting to shine as the central focus. Scenic and Sound Designers, Zsuzsa Manna and Dean McCaughan, respectively), have taken a subtle and most effective approach, with minor changes of lighting and/or the tiny ding of a single bell completely transforming the scene.

   Lest I seem completely biased, I will say that String Of Pearls is not flawless. At Sunday’s matinee, a line or two got dropped, but quickly corrected, and the occasional entrance seemed a bit late, most likely due to costume change issues, which tend to smooth out by any show’s second weekend.

   A word to parents, the extremely conservative, and the easily-offended. String Of Pearls contains a fair amount of grown-up dialogue, some of it extremely straightforward, and several adult situations. And yes, the pun you’re probably chuckling about right now is, indeed, mentioned in detail. (You may want to leave the pre-teens at home for this one, and let them enjoy Workshop’s June production of Shrek, Jr. )

   Columbia College’s Cottingham Theatre is a comfortable, easily-located facility (just GPS 1301 Columbia College Drive, and you’ll be able to drive straight to the door), and the acoustics are top-notch. Even stage whispers could be easily heard. The sight lines are clear, and the seats a bit small, but comfy. That said, it’s an older building without all the fancy bells and whistles that have now become industry standard, and has a slightly-frayed-at-the-edges feel, though I personally find that to be a charming asset to any theatre.

   String Of Pearls is a perfect show for those seeking an intelligent, funny, grown-up look at life. It made me think of the internet meme with words for familiar, but difficult-to-describe, feelings, specifically sonder, which is "the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own." Originally from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, sonder has now entered the vernacular, and it was sonder that I felt while watching the show. One object, twenty-seven complex individuals, and one hilarious, poignant, thought-provoking trip through a cornucopia of human experiences.

-FLT3

21 May, 2018

Black AF - And Why Columbia Deserves More New Performance Art And Why That Art Must Come from Everyone

"Nothing is more empowering than being able to speak your truth."

 Preach Jacobs - photo by Brodiemedia

Preach Jacobs - photo by Brodiemedia

One of the most telling signs of a healthy arts scene in a city is when performing artists and arts organizations no longer rely solely on art being fed to them from the outside or from a canon of tried and true productions, and instead look within themselves and to their own resources to create new art and make unique contributions to culture. While we rarely see performances of new works from our more heavily funded Columbia arts organizations who seem to be more incentivized to put butts in the seats of the expensive Koger Center than to challenge, stimulate, and yes, grow their audiences, it is the smaller venues and organizations – think Tapp’s Arts Center, Harbison Theatre’s Performance Incubator, and local bars – where we most often find new work being created and performed.

Thankfully, Trustus Theatre has a history of encouraging new performing arts via their Playwright’s Festival and sketch comedy programs and, this season, they brought it all home by presenting Constance, a new musical theatre production composed by Daniel Machado, Adam Corbett, and the Restoration and written by Chad Henderson, all Columbia-based artists. Interestingly enough, Constance sold out and came close to selling out on most nights, challenging the assumption that Columbia audiences are content with the same plays, compositions, and ballets their parents grew tired of decades ago.

Now, just one week later Trustus Theatre offers a brand new one-night-only original production written and performed by Preach Jacobs and directed by Kari LebbyBlack AF.

Black AF originated with Preach Jacobs who, at 34 is a well-known member of Columbia’s local music scene. “My grandmother passed away last year and it took a toll on me,” Jacobs says. “She came from a generation where black folks … didn’t talk about their lives. …But there would be moments where she would begin to talk and those were jewels for me. Her stories were fascinating and she gave me the understanding that everyone deserves to tell their story. Black AF is paying homage to my granny and ancestors because by telling my story I’m telling their story. Unapologetically black. Black as fuck.”

Jacobs enlisted the help of Columbia native actor/director/musician Bakari Lebby, 27, whose previous directing work has included Sunset Baby at Trustus and Some Girls at Workshop, who readily jumped on board. “We had talked about how we wanted to work together on something,” Lebby says, "and Preach said he had this theatre project that he wanted to do that was ‘part TED talk, part stand up, and part hip hop show.’ That sounded dope and innovative to me, and then he told me he wanted to call it Black as Fuck, which also appealed to my interests. Then we started really fleshing out the concept and content together.”

Both artists identify the importance of supporting black art and new art from traditionally marginalized voices as being integral to their decisions to go forward with this project. “Life is scary. Shit is cray. We need art to be able to confront, explore, and express our feelings as well as the feelings of others,” Lebby says. “Any art that is not ‘mainstream’ is critically important right now. Representation. Real representation.”

“It’s important as black people in America to not just have our stories told, but in fact we be in charge of telling our stories,” Jacobs adds. “It may seem like a simple idea but it’s something that we’ve been deprived of. In this current climate it trickles to other groups of people that haven’t had their voices heard. The Me Too movement is proof of generations of women that are finally being heard and able to tell their stories. Nothing is more empowering than being able to speak your truth.”

With any new performance art audiences may be uncertain of what to expect and whether to invest in the not-inexpensive ticket price of $25, but Lebby has faith in the format and the gifts Jacobs brings to the stage. “This show is not the average ‘one-man show.’ Yes, Preach will be occupying the stage the whole time, but there is a DJ. There will be some visual supplements. There will be musical performances and dialogues. The show is funny. The show is darkly funny. It’s also a bummer at times. It is also ceaselessly honest and in Preach Jacobs’s voice. He carries the show confidently.”

Jacobs emphasizes the role of “raw honesty” in the performance, adding that the show is “a love letter to my ancestors.”

With the title of the show being Black AF (Black as Fuck) it’s reasonable to question the audiences to whom the show might most appeal, so we asked both gentlemen why both black people and white people should show up, or even if both black people and white people should show up.

According to Lebby, black people should attend “because supporting black art is lit. It’ll be a good time. The more that we show up, the more opportunities that we can get and give to more artists of color. … These are conversations we need to be having with each other.”

Jacobs says, “Hopefully the black folks that show up can relate to what I’m saying. Having a shared experience is a type of emotional bonding that I look for with my art. Watching Black Panther resonated so much because of that fact. Black folks could relate.”

As for white folks, Jacobs hopes they will “come with an open mind and really hear what I believe are things that could help with dialogue about race relations. There’s not much in the show about black and whites dealing with each other per se, as much as it is embracing and loving myself. To learn that being black isn’t a curse is life changing but also a process. Some of these things might surprise them.”

Lebby adds, “I think checking out perspectives that you haven’t seen on stage before is cool. If you’re a white theatre person, yes, come see this show. It’s important. You don’t get to ‘support black art and then not actually support it.”

 

Black AF is a one-night-only event coming up Sunday, May 27th at 8 pm at Trustus Theatre and tickets are available at http://trustus.org/event/black-af/.
A free accompanying art show will also be held May 26th at Frame of Mind (142 State St., West Columbia, SC).
***
- Cindi Boiter is the executive director of The Jasper Project and the founder and editor of Jasper Magazine

REVIEW: The Restoration's Constance - An Original Musical

by Jon Tuttle

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Eight years and several iterations after its 2010 debut, the Restoration’s Constance is finally and fully on its feet at Trustus, and it is a monolith.  

 

A fictional musical saga set in Reconstruction-era Lexington, the play defies summation except to say they’re all there, all those primal southern tropes, like bigotry, miscegenation, old money, zealotry, revenge, hypocrisy, and violence.   It’s unwieldy and exhausting and overwhelming and an excellent example of what theatre is for. 

 

It’s elemental, is what it is.   It begins with fire—the actual fire set by Sherman’s troops in 1865 at St. Stephen’s Church—and ends in flood, the drowning of an entire town by an embittered native son.   It is earth, in its emphasis on home and land and the genius of place.    And it is air, or rather ayre, an aural palette of (how to describe it?) Americana/heartland/folk balladry. 

 

That Constance is a protracted labor of love between two old friends--Trustus Artistic Director Chad Henderson and The Restoration founder Daniel Machado--becomes obvious in its attention to detail and commitment of resources.   Henderson wrote the book, quilting together Machado’s songs with dialogue so assured you can’t hear the writing.  In directing it, he deployed many of the theatrical gadgets in his Swiss Army knife.  And he hired Tom Beard, always a pro, as musical director, and Jessica Bornick, whose costumes are terrific.  The result is a multi-media, multi-modal theatrical tsunami, more akin to Bernstein’s Mass than to the last musical you saw.

 

The flood scene, for instance, is magnificently effectuated by the “floating” of church pews by members of the ensemble.   The fire is a combination of lighting mayhem, percussive stomping, urgent strings and

choreography.   Virtually every scene introduces a fresh visual element--Brechtian projections, newsreel footage, scrim silhouettes, a cascade of flying paper, and (this was brilliant) an unruly mob armed with creepy flashlights marauding the auditorium.  Meanwhile, hanging ominously on the back wall: heavy ropes, impossible to ignore in a play about race.

 

And there are unmistakable references to Our Town, appropriate in such a panoramic homage to our town, such as the adult Constance’s observation of herself at different ages, or the funeral scene, or in Paul Kaufman’s (riveting) Reverend Harper, at first a unifying and benevolent consciousness presiding over these affairs like Wilder’s Stage Manager,  later reduced by time and tribulation to a ragged, wild-haired, raging alcoholic howling about the “Werewolf of Ballentine” and looking as horrifically grizzled as Steve Bannon on a good day.   

 

The cast itself is colossal, consisting of twenty-five actors led by Trustus veterans Kaufman and, in the role of the adult Constance Owen, Vicky Saye Henderson, whom I cannot review fairly because her singing beguiles me.   I think, however, she might be magnificent because what I wanted most was more of her.  

 

And here begin my apprehensions.  

 

The play is actually two, each its own act.  In the first, we meet teenage Constance (played by Brittany Hammock) and her love interest, the mixed-race Aaron Vale (Mario McClean).  So convincing is their chemistry, so harmonious their voices, so solid their performances, that the play is never better than when they are on stage.  Indeed, their scenes together provide the evening’s best moments and melodies (like “I Can’t Stop Wanting You”).  If such actors are the inheritors of Trustus’ reputation, then the theatre is in excellent hands. 

 

But the first act is so long as to test the limits of the even the most heroic middle-aged prostate.   This being a work-still-in-progress, further pruning is likely to be done.  A good place to start, so say I, would be the subplot involving a local troupe’s production of Othello, which seems to ape Waiting for Guffman and features the embarrassing caricature of a flaming primo uomo.  Or perhaps the glimpses we are given into the troubled marriage of Col. and Mrs. Palmer, he a pompous developer with an eye for the colored help, she a pious shrew competing for his attention.   To be fair, their story is actually quite compelling, particularly as it is embodied by Stan Gwynn and Len Marini, but it tries to compete with the real story here, that being Constance and Aaron’s, whose secret wedding in a short, lovely benedictory would have made an excellent act-closer.  And should have.  

 

Better there, so say I, than much later, at Aaron’s death scene, and for two reasons.  One is that it’s odd.  No sooner has he suffered an infarction than he calls for his guitar, sits up, and begs Constance, through song, not to “let my music die with me.  Don’t let it go into the ground with me.  Write it down, write it down, write it down for me.”   It’s a fine piece of music, but it would have made more sense had it been sung a capella, since he’s, you know, dying.  And until that point he hadn’t really identified so strongly with his music.  He took more pride, or so I thought, in his skills as a builder.   

 

At any rate, I was sorry to see him go, partly because I really liked him, but mostly because I knew the play had just created for itself a considerable structural challenge.  Conventional Dramatic Wisdom dictates that a second act must trump the first; it must quicken the themes and conflicts already established and more deeply develop its characters.   But now a romantic lead was dead, so that story was over.  Where to now? 

 

Conventional Dramatic Wisdom can be wrong, of course. Witness Robert Schenkkan’s 1992 Pulitzer Prize-winning The Kentucky Cycle, a play very similar in texture and scope.  It’s actually nine different, barely-connected plays spanning two-hundred years and running six hours.  It shouldn’t work, but it does, and Constance shares its DNA.   And it attempts the same sort of narrative teleportation:  in Act II we are introduced to Thomas Vale, Constance and Aaron’s quadroon son, who now becomes our protagonist because Constance is glimpsed only rarely.

 

In an opening duet, ten-year-old Thomas (Henry Melkomian) and his friend Henry (Christopher Hionis) sing (quite well) that “I don’t understand” why race would separate people, and that refrain interweaves gracefully through the rest of the play, which is essentially a catalogue of young Thomas’ frustrations. These are (a) the death, in war, of Henry; (b) unrequited affection for Willodean, on account of the one-drop rule; (c) the foreclosure on the family home, and (d) there’s this hooker.   And so the stage is set for the violent climax, and when it comes, it’s a cathartic sensory spectacle played out before Constance’s eyes so that the full measure of her loss can be realized.   The whole act has the shape of a perfectly plausible plotline, the closing of a long and vicious circle, really the story of the South itself.

 

And yet….

 

Perhaps there are again too many distractions.   At one point, for instance, two of Colonel Parker’s mill hands interrupt a New Year’s Eve party bearing a bag of bloody cotton testifying to the death of Flora, the object of his unreconstructed lust.   But because the contents of the bag better resemble the offal of a difficult liposuction, his grief seems comical.  And then, for instance, there’s a song about Little Round Shoes, which “I don’t understand.”    And the cast turns over almost completely, as generations do, and I get that, but I kept wondering where Constance went.   When in the coda she is discovered, years later, recounting her story to a stranger on a train, she feels like a stranger on a train. 

 

And yet, and yet.

 

“Constance” means fidelity, commitment, perseverance, which perhaps explains the sensation of comfort attendant to our last encounter with her.   It is comforting, at play’s end, to look back upon her life and see so many familiar stories there, and so much sorrow, and more than that, so much goodness. 

 

The theatre’s purpose is tell stories of other people so that we can find designs for living our own real stories—which are unwieldy and exhausting and overwhelming.  They are epic poems, is what they are, and one ought to appreciate a piece of art that sings one.   

 

Constance may become a permanent part of Trustus’ repertoire, a play it can return to in years to come, and it ought to, because it’s uniquely theirs, and it’s ours, and it’s really quite extraordinary. 

 

Jon Tuttle is Professor of English and Director of University Honors at Francis Marion University and former Literary Manager at Trustus Theatre, where his play BOY ABOUT TEN will premier in August.

 

 

JASPER MAGAZINE Release & Constance Preview Schedule of Events

TICKETS

$20

https://constance.brownpapertickets.com

Jasper theatre logo.jpg

5:30

Doors Open, Supper Starts, Silent Auction is Live, & Magazines are Hot!!

 

6:00

Cover Artist Ansley Adams Gives Artist Talk in Gallery

 

6:30

Concert by Daniel Machado and Adam Corbett

 

7:30

Official Preview – Constance – The Musical

 

Intermission

Performance by The Watering Hole

Auction Closes at Intermission End

 

Post-Show

Kyle Petersen Interview with Chad Henderson, Daniel Machado                    & The Restoration

 

~~~~~

TICKETS

$20

https://constance.brownpapertickets.com

Please note - tickets to this event are offered at a $10 savings over regularly priced shows.

OR ...

Join the Jasper Guild by 6 pm on May 3rd and receive a FREE ticket to the event!

https://squareup.com/store/the-jasper-project

Columbia's Favorite Poetry - today Featuring Al Black

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In celebration of National Poetry Month the Jasper Project invited several artists, writers, and leaders in the Columbia arts community to share with us their favorite poems and most of them generously accepted.

We’ve put together this collection of our favorite poems and will be sharing them with you, poem by poem, day by day, over the month of April. Some of the poems are old and traditional, others are new and inventive. Some are whimsical, others are insightful. Some rhyme. Some don’t.

What they all have in common is that someone you know loves that poem – and this gives us such lovely insight into the soul of our community.

Thank you to everyone who shared their poetry with us.

And Happy National Poetry Month from Jasper.

 

Today's poem comes to us from Al Black.

 

Wild Geese

by Mary Oliver

 

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

 

A Hoosier in the land of cotton, Al Black was born and raised in Lafayette, Indiana.  He has been married 46 years to Carol Agnew Black; they have four grown children and six grandchildren.  Black began writing verse at age nine, but kept his poems strictly to himself. In late 2008, he moved to South Carolina so his wife could accept a job as a professor of Sociology. Unemployed for the first time and free from family and community expectations, he publicly shared his first poetry eight years ago.  Black is co-founder of Poets Respond to Race and hosts several poetry and music events in Columbia, SC; he considers himself a northern born Southern poet because it was here in the South that he felt free to blossom.


 

 Al Black

Al Black

Columbia's Favorite Poetry - Today Featuring Eric Bargeron

national poetry month.jpg

In celebration of National Poetry Month the Jasper Project invited several artists, writers, and leaders in the Columbia arts community to share with us their favorite poems and most of them generously accepted.

We’ve put together this collection of our favorite poems and will be sharing them with you, poem by poem, day by day, over the month of April. Some of the poems are old and traditional, others are new and inventive. Some are whimsical, others are insightful. Some rhyme. Some don’t.

What they all have in common is that someone you know loves that poem – and this gives us such lovely insight into the soul of our community.

Thank you to everyone who shared their poetry with us.

And Happy National Poetry Month from Jasper.

 

Today's poem comes to us from Eric Bargeron --

 

spring song 

 

the green of Jesus

is breaking the ground

and the sweet

smell of delicious Jesus

is opening the house and

the dance of Jesus music

has hold of the air and

the world is turning

in the body of Jesus and

the future is possible

 

Lucille Clifton, "spring song" from The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton. Copyright 

 Eric Bargeron

Eric Bargeron

REVIEW: Flight at USC is a Needed Addition to American History and Drama

"We are weightless and unbound by gravity ..."

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Flight, conceived and directed by Steve Pearson and written by Robyn Hunt, is not an easy play. To start with, it is an historical drama exploring a subject about which little history has been written. Its fictional characters, who lived lives split between the theatrical stage and the aviation hangar, are based loosely on actual female aviation pioneers whose lives were similarly fragmented. Add to this a deep thematic attachment to the work of Anton Chekov, and top it with a singular character whose place in time and space is hard to peg, and the result is nothing less than a study in complexity. But bear with the play’s construct, lean into its sometimes surprising interludes into dance and theatrics, stay with the play, and, ultimately, the viewer is delivered a simple and straightforward message, which is this: Though women are remembered too often for the performative work they do, (and there is a performative nature to far too much of the work of women), it is the unlauded milestones women have made—the ones accomplished when they were not being watched, critiqued, or directed—that have produced the greatest resonance, not just for the individual women themselves, but for humanity writ large.

A production of the University of SC Department of Theatre and Dance, Flight is making its second appearance in Columbia. First presented in 2009 by department professors Pearson and Hunt, Flight took wing on a national tour during which its script was tightened and refined by the playwright Hunt. It returns to Columbia this month with some of the original cast who also served as original researchers into the history and culture of women in aviation upon which the play is based.

The story of two French actress/aviators and a similarly ground-breaking woman documentarian, Flight takes the audience into an airline hangar in which the women appear to be constructing a plane in preparation for a trailblazing flight from Paris to Moscow. In fact, over the course of the play, the actors actually (re)assemble a ¾ scale replica of an early monoplane called the Bleriot XI, (previously hand-fashioned by Pearson). Always in motion, Madeleine, played by Gabriela Castillo, and Sophie, played by Kimberly Gaughan, create strong supporting roles for one another as their characters are juxtaposed in disposition and delivery, with Gaughan as intensely restrained—think tempered drama just below the surface of her character’s personality—as Castillo is light and optimistic. These women require no sympathy, despite the unaccommodating culture in which they work and live. They are empowered by their own dignity and dedication to their science. Gaughan and Castillo do their characters ample justice and should be proud of their work.

As the documentarian Alisse, playwright Hunt lends a diligent gentility to her character—so composed, so professional in the face of adversity—and her blending of the kind of maturity one can only admire with her easy manipulation of the stage, floating in and out of the machinations of filmmaking and the cultural machinations of womanhood are deliberate and nuanced.

Eric Bultman plays the part of the oft aloft Jean Luc, a prescient and somewhat ethereal combination of mystic and mechanic who seems to represent not only science but a more benevolent patriarchy than the one in which the women operate, offering a fluid form of interactive narration that has a grounding effect for the audience. Bultman is inordinately well-suited for the authoritative presence his character demands and, particularly in his tango with Hunt, which seems to so beautifully marry science to art, exhibits an easy command of the stage.

In the role of Gerard, a good-natured compatriot of the women from the theatre, Nicolas Stewart faces challenges in displaying a sense of comfort with his character’s physical form, lacking variability from the easy-going persona to which he so frequently returns. Still, there is much to look forward to in this young actor’s future.

The gradual materialization of an almost full-sized airplane on the stage aside, the rest of the set, also created by Pearson, is sparse but strong, exhibiting a captivating design element in its color and texture. Even more engaging is the costuming of the characters, designed by Lisa Martin-Stuart and Kristy Hall, which makes no apparent concessions to convenience or cost in the adherence to authenticity. It is satisfying to see period costuming so thoroughly implemented with no tell-tale signs of the 21st century sneaking out from around the edges.  A light and lovely score accompanies the play’s progress.

It is cliché to say that Flight reminds us of how far we have come yet how far we still need to go, but it must be said. These powerful characters leave us with the optimistic words that we, as women, are weightless and unbound by gravity. But until we transcend, or at a minimum reconfigure, the performance of womanhood as culture demands it, we may never fully get off the ground.

Flight is at the Center for Performance Experiment and runs through April 29th.

Cindi Boiter is the executive director of the Jasper Project and editor of Jasper Magazine.

Columbia's Favorite Poetry - Today Featuring Aida Rogers

national poetry month.jpg

In celebration of National Poetry Month the Jasper Project invited several artists, writers, and leaders in the Columbia arts community to share with us their favorite poems and most of them generously accepted.

We’ve put together this collection of our favorite poems and will be sharing them with you, poem by poem, day by day, over the month of April. Some of the poems are old and traditional, others are new and inventive. Some are whimsical, others are insightful. Some rhyme. Some don’t.

What they all have in common is that someone you know loves that poem – and this gives us such lovely insight into the soul of our community.

Thank you to everyone who shared their poetry with us.

And Happy National Poetry Month from Jasper.

 

Today's poem comes to us from Aida Rogers and here's what she says about it -- 

Here's one my grandmother would read to us. I didn't quite understand it, but the part about Little Bridget under the lake would just freak me out. Plus, what could sound more delicious to your ear and shivery up your spine and more adventurous in life than traveling "up an airy mountain and down the rushy glen"?

 

 

William Allingham (1824-1889)

          The Fairies

    UP the airy mountain, 
        Down the rushy glen, 
    We daren't go a-hunting
        For fear of little men; 
    Wee folk, good folk, 
        Trooping all together; 
    Green jacket, red cap, 
        And a white owl's feather!

    Down along the rocky shore
        Some make their home, 
    They live on crispy pancakes
        Of yellow tide-foam; 
    Some in the reeds
        Of the black mountain lake, 
    With frogs for their watch-dogs, 
        All night awake.

    High on the hill-top
        The old King sits; 
    He is now so old and gray
        He's nigh lost his wits. 
    With a bridge of white mist
        Columbkill he crosses, 
    On his stately journeys
        From Slieveleague to Rosses; 
    Or going up with music
        On cold starry nights, 
    To sup with the Queen
        Of the gay Northern Lights.

    They stole little Bridget
        For seven years long; 
    When she came down again
        Her friends were all gone. 
    They took her lightly back, 
        Between the night and morrow, 
    They thought that she was fast asleep, 
        But she was dead with sorrow. 
    They have kept her ever since
        Deep within the lake, 
    On a bed of flag-leaves, 
        Watching till she wake.

    By the craggy hill-side, 
        Through the mosses bare, 
    They have planted thorn-trees
        For pleasure here and there. 
    Is any man so daring
        As dig them up in spite, 
    He shall find their sharpest thorns
        In his bed at night.

    Up the airy mountain, 
        Down the rushy glen, 
    We daren't go a-hunting
        For fear of little men; 
    Wee folk, good folk, 
        Trooping all together; 
    Green jacket, red cap, 
        And a white owl's feather!

 

 

Aïda Rogers is a writer in Columbia who unfashionably likes poems that rhyme. She is the editor of the anthology series State of the Heart: South Carolina Writers on the Places They Love. Volume 3 will be released in August by USC Press.

 

 Aida Rogers

Aida Rogers

Columbia's Favorite Poetry - Today Featuring Michael Dowdy

national poetry month.jpg

In celebration of National Poetry Month the Jasper Project invited several artists, writers, and leaders in the Columbia arts community to share with us their favorite poems and most of them generously accepted.

We’ve put together this collection of our favorite poems and will be sharing them with you, poem by poem, day by day, over the month of April. Some of the poems are old and traditional, others are new and inventive. Some are whimsical, others are insightful. Some rhyme. Some don’t.

What they all have in common is that someone you know loves that poem – and this gives us such lovely insight into the soul of our community.

Thank you to everyone who shared their poetry with us.

And Happy National Poetry Month from Jasper.

Michael Dowdy shares one of his favorite poems with us today --

 

If “El Fruto” (The Fruit) is a Garden of Eden poem, in the voice of Eve, it is one in which the Chicano (Mexican-American) poet Juan Felipe Herrera paints that biblical world as strange, sensuous, effervescent, fleshy and feverish, terrible and joyous. But it’s the last line that jabs me in the ribs, for there we fall into our 21st-century predicament, where god isn’t Old Testament or New but a superrich CEO who tempts with the “delicate voice” of dollar bills.

 

El Fruto

 

The apple wasn’t our true origin.

The tree, well, it offered its own brand of shade.

The parrot, can you see him? The witness of this account.

We had just come back from the Serpent Café, rebellious.

We had just washed in black light & oyster sauce.

Our fragrance was of sex, lemon rind and coral.

He mentioned the brutalities of the heavens.

I pointed to the blistered boulevards, the musicians

in stoic delight, their gaping violin wounds.

He mentioned the ecstasy beneath his blonde ribs.

I turned away, called my sisters, Tara, Queen of Illusion,

Mayahuel, Goddess of Dark Jazz Nectars. Then

a delicate voice flashed from above, it ripped away

the milk from my lips, the wine from his eyes.

It was King Executive, Demi-god of the New Business.

 

 

 

  Michael Dowdy  is the author of  Urbilly,  winner of the 2017 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award, and  Broken Souths: Latina/o Poetic Responses to Neoliberalism and Globalization, a study of Latina/o poetry . With the poet Claudia Rankine, he is coediting the forthcoming anthology,  American Poets in the 21st Century: Poetics of Social Engagemen t (Wesleyan University Press, 2018). Originally from Blacksburg, Virginia, he teaches at the University of South Carolina.

Michael Dowdy is the author of Urbilly, winner of the 2017 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award, and Broken Souths: Latina/o Poetic Responses to Neoliberalism and Globalization, a study of Latina/o poetry. With the poet Claudia Rankine, he is coediting the forthcoming anthology, American Poets in the 21st Century: Poetics of Social Engagement (Wesleyan University Press, 2018). Originally from Blacksburg, Virginia, he teaches at the University of South Carolina.

Under the Jasper Tent on the Jasper Arts Fairway at West Columbia's Kinetic Derby Day!

Jasper is delighted to feature work by Columbia-based artists under the Jasper tent along the Jasper Arts Fairway tomorrow at West Columbia’s Kinetic Day Derby. Please join us starting at 10 am as we celebrate the art of movement.

kinetic-derby-day with jasper.jpg

FEATURED ARTISTS

  Bohumila Augustinova  is a 3D artist, focusing often on wire sculptor and jewelry, as well as the director of Yarnbombers of Columbia and the manager and curator for Anastasia and Friends art gallery. Her work is included among the artist at Columbia’s new boutique hotel, Hotel Trundle

Bohumila Augustinova is a 3D artist, focusing often on wire sculptor and jewelry, as well as the director of Yarnbombers of Columbia and the manager and curator for Anastasia and Friends art gallery. Her work is included among the artist at Columbia’s new boutique hotel, Hotel Trundle

  Gina Langston Brewer ’s whimsical and innovative art lifts the spirits of the viewer on sight. An artist who readily makes use of multiple mediums, Gina sees art in unlikely objects and places and facilitates their realization via her unique abilities and talent. Also a poet, Gina will be reading at the  Jasper Literary Salon , hosted by  Kristine Hartvigsen  and located by  Ed’s Editions  book store.

Gina Langston Brewer’s whimsical and innovative art lifts the spirits of the viewer on sight. An artist who readily makes use of multiple mediums, Gina sees art in unlikely objects and places and facilitates their realization via her unique abilities and talent. Also a poet, Gina will be reading at the Jasper Literary Salon, hosted by Kristine Hartvigsen and located by Ed’s Editions book store.

  Laura Garner Hine  - After completing an undergraduate program with the University of South Carolina in 2011, Laura moved to Groningen, the Netherlands until 2013. She continued with her education by pursuing a Masters program in Restoration of Painting with Accademia Riaci and completed the program in the summer of 2014, and is now pursuing a professional career in Historical Preservation and Conservation; with a focus in the restoration and conservation of oil paintings, as well as frames. Check out her website at  https://www.laurakgarnerfineartist.net

Laura Garner Hine - After completing an undergraduate program with the University of South Carolina in 2011, Laura moved to Groningen, the Netherlands until 2013. She continued with her education by pursuing a Masters program in Restoration of Painting with Accademia Riaci and completed the program in the summer of 2014, and is now pursuing a professional career in Historical Preservation and Conservation; with a focus in the restoration and conservation of oil paintings, as well as frames. Check out her website at https://www.laurakgarnerfineartist.net

 Fiber and installation artist  Susan Lenz  is a full time, professional studio artist in Columbia, South Carolina. Her studio is located at  Mouse House , Inc. at 2123 Park Street where she has both a studio for 3D sculptural and installation work and a separate fiber art studio. Susan's work has been juried into numerous national and international exhibits, featured in solo shows all over the United States, and shown on television and in print. She has been awarded six full scholarship art residencies and several "Best of Show" ribbons. Susan can’t be with us for Derby Day because she is on her way to install her art at the  36th Annual Smithsonian Craft Show . Check out her website at  http://www.susanlenz.com/default.shtml

Fiber and installation artist Susan Lenz is a full time, professional studio artist in Columbia, South Carolina. Her studio is located at Mouse House, Inc. at 2123 Park Street where she has both a studio for 3D sculptural and installation work and a separate fiber art studio. Susan's work has been juried into numerous national and international exhibits, featured in solo shows all over the United States, and shown on television and in print. She has been awarded six full scholarship art residencies and several "Best of Show" ribbons. Susan can’t be with us for Derby Day because she is on her way to install her art at the 36th Annual Smithsonian Craft Show. Check out her website at http://www.susanlenz.com/default.shtml

  Lucas Sams  was born and raised in Greenwood, South Carolina and in 2006, Sams left home to live and study at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville. Prior to attending the Governor’s School, Sams had worked primarily with illustrations, graphic arts, and ceramics. Upon graduation from the Governor’s School, Sams traveled to Tokyo where he studied painting at the Temple University Tokyo Campus. His major professor there was the Brazilian-born eco-artist, Walderedo De Oleveira. De Oleveira taught Sams the technique that he most often uses in his work today.  After returning to the US in 2008, Sams enrolled at the University of South Carolina and began working on an undergraduate degree.

Lucas Sams was born and raised in Greenwood, South Carolina and in 2006, Sams left home to live and study at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville. Prior to attending the Governor’s School, Sams had worked primarily with illustrations, graphic arts, and ceramics. Upon graduation from the Governor’s School, Sams traveled to Tokyo where he studied painting at the Temple University Tokyo Campus. His major professor there was the Brazilian-born eco-artist, Walderedo De Oleveira. De Oleveira taught Sams the technique that he most often uses in his work today.  After returning to the US in 2008, Sams enrolled at the University of South Carolina and began working on an undergraduate degree.

  Taryn Shekitka-West and David West  are quintessential partners in all things important in life – especially as artists, parents, and spouses. David will be live painting for us starting at 10 am, and he and Taryn will be showing their work under the Jasper tents.

Taryn Shekitka-West and David West are quintessential partners in all things important in life – especially as artists, parents, and spouses. David will be live painting for us starting at 10 am, and he and Taryn will be showing their work under the Jasper tents.

  Barry Wheeler  is the president of the  Jasper Project  board of directors and the Arts Project Manager for the Jasper Arts Fairway at this year’s Kinetic Derby Day. Barry is also primarily a sculptor and 3D artist working most recently with wood and metals. He and sculptor, installation artist, and environmental artist  Billy Guess  have collaborated on many projects for the Jasper Arts Fairway this year.

Barry Wheeler is the president of the Jasper Project board of directors and the Arts Project Manager for the Jasper Arts Fairway at this year’s Kinetic Derby Day. Barry is also primarily a sculptor and 3D artist working most recently with wood and metals. He and sculptor, installation artist, and environmental artist Billy Guess have collaborated on many projects for the Jasper Arts Fairway this year.

REVIEW - USC Presents the Stars of New York by Susan Lenz

Perfect Ending: The 13th Annual Ballet Stars of New York

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Last autumn I was introduced as the Jasper Project's dance writer and I went about the assignment from the viewpoint of an expert audience member. Various articles covered positive highlights, personal anecdotes, an occasional critical word, and more than a few comments regarding theater etiquette. I talked about applause and standing ovations. Now that the local season is drawing to a close, I can honestly say that the 13th Annual Ballet Stars of New York presented at the Koger Center in concert with the University of South Carolina Dance Program was a perfect ending. To stand and clap for New York City Ballet principals Sara Mearns, Robert Fairchild, and Anthony Huxley after a stirring performance of George Balanchine's Stars and Stripes was wonderful. Students sitting near me were a-buzz with excitement. Compliments drifted in the air.

 

Some of the reactions were undoubtedly due to the fact that the entire evening included live music under conductor Nyamka Odsuren's baton or on the fingertips of pianist Claudio Olivera. It would have been difficult to miss NYCB principal Ashley Bouder's precise footwork or how she was expertly partnered by principal Jared Angle in Allegro Brillante, another piece performed with permission of the Balanchine Trust. Yet, most impressive was Columbia native Sara Mearns. 

 

In The Bright Motion, a duet set on Mearns by NYCB soloist and resident choreographer Justin Peck, the audience witnessed exactly what Anna Rogovoy wrote after 2013 Fall for Dance Festival premier:

“I believe that the core of the earth can be found somewhere around Mearns’ spine. Endless length emanates from her center, through fire-dagger limbs and the kind of lines you could write a haiku about; elegant, yet impossibly direct and efficient. She is perhaps the most exciting American ballerina of her generation.”

 

What impressed me was not only the dance steps and lines but the sense of space between and around both Sara Mearns and her partner, Robert Fairchild. As an installation artist, I am acutely aware of a created environment, the physical shapes suggested by movement, and even the weight of air. The physical space was as electrifying as the two dancers controlling it.

 

While Columbia’s audience might have come for the NYCB stars, there were other good reasons to enjoy this one-night-only performance. It was a chance to see USC dance students sharing the stage. Both Creative Director Stacey Calvert (a former NYCB soloist) and Artistic Director Susan Anderson should be rightly proud of their talented students. Dance performance seniors Elaine Miller and Lydia Sanders were stand-outs. John L. Green, II from Orangeburg blended perfectly into the cast of ten professional dancers guesting from Columbia City Ballet. In my opinion, William Starrett, Columbia City Ballet’s Artistic Director who was in the audience, should try to grab this young man (now only a junior) as soon as he becomes available.

 

I couldn’t help but to notice Bo Busby’s excellent partnering skills and the exuberance in Philip Ingrassia’s steps. Both are principals with Columbia City Ballet. Colin Jacob, Camilo Herrara, and Brandon Funk were also excellent partnering USC students in Allegro Brillante

 

Dancing a work from the Balanchine Trust is an excellent line on any dancer’s resume, student or already a professional. These unique works are only presented by arrangement and in accordance with the standards of the Balanchine Style® and Balanchine Technique® established by the Trust. Columbia’s audience is lucky to have the opportunity to see both the NYCB stars and our local talent in these roles. Writing about the performance is for me the perfect ending to the 2017-18 season.