2nd Annual Artists for Africa benefit performance this weekend at Columbia Music Festival Association Artspace

artists for africa also  

This Saturday and Sunday, August 10th and 11th, Artists for Africa, a newly formed non-profit organization with goals to provide arts education to impoverished children in Africa, presents the 2nd annual benefit performance at the CMFA Artspace on Pulaski Street in the Vista.

Artists for Africa Founder, dancer and teacher Cooper Rust, has recently returned from her second stint in Nairobi, Kenya, teaching ballet to young children in the area. In 2012, Rust was able to coordinate an effort that raised nearly seven thousand dollars for the cause in one weekend of performances. Thanks to the work of Artists for Africa, an additional 300 underprivileged children in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya were able to enjoy after school arts classes, giving most of them their first opportunity of this kind.

Rust initially traveled to Kenya in 2012 to work with Anno’s Africa, an organization based out of the United Kingdom promoting education resources in Africa. Artists for Africa joins Anno’s Africa and One Fine Day, based out of Germany, in the global fight for arts exposure and education for these children. A year later, Rust has again just returned home from Kenya and says, “I have all the confidence in the world that Columbia will once again come together to support me and this beautiful cause.”

The concerts include performances by members of the Columbia City Ballet, Columbia Summer Repertory Company, Trustus Theatre’s upcoming production of “Ragtime,” and Milwaukee Ballet among others. Saturday evening’s show includes a silent auction and food and beverages donated by Villa Tronco, Rosso, Gervais and Vine, Tin Roof, Blue Marlin, and Cellar on Greene. Framing of the artwork donated by The Frame Shop, City Art, Haven's, Frames and Things, Framing Plus, House of Frames, Picture Perfect, and Just Susan's Framing.

The events, sponsored by Top Hat Sweepers and the Columbia Music Festival Association, begin at 7pm on the 10th and 3pm on the 11th. Tickets for the 10th are $25 in advance and $30 at the door, and for the 11th are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.

For more information, please visit www.artistsforafricausa.org or to purchase tickets, call (803) 467-9004.

-- Bonnie Boiter-Jolley

“The Whipping Man” by the Trustus Theatre at CMFA March 12-22 by Giesela Lubecke

  Cast of The Whipping Man -- Mario McClean, Darion McCloud, and Bobby Bloom

 

The Trustus Theatre’s performance of Mario Lopez’s awarding-winning Civil War play opens at the Columbia Music Festival Association 7:30 p.m. March 12.

 

The Whipping Man continues Trustus Theatre’s Off-Off Lady Street Series, an experiment to bring theatre to nontraditional venues across Columbia. The series began  last August at Tapp’s Art Center with Robbie Robertson’s “The Twitty Triplets.”  For The Whipping Man, Trustus Threatre partnered with the CMFA and the NiA Company, a theatre group committed to bringing artistic programs to minorities, at-risk youths and economically challenged groups.

 

The Whipping Man is set shortly after the end of the Civil War. Confederate soldier Caleb, played by Bobby Bloom, is a Jewish plantation owner who has returned from the War. When he comes home, he finds that his family is missing, and the only people left are his former slaves John and Simon (played by Mario McClean and Darion McCloud, respectively).

 

“There’s three characters, and I don’t know, I wouldn’t say there’s a single main character,” said Bloom. “It’s about all three of their relationships with each other.”

 

Together, Caleb, John and Simon must work through their differences as former master and slaves while they celebrate Passover, a holiday celebrating the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.

 

“It’s a great story that takes place in such a short period of time,” said McLean. “It’s really heavy material, but it keeps you captivated. I think I was just overwhelmed by the  history of it.”

 

Bloom, like McLean, was also struck by the historical facts the play bases itself on. “The fact that there were Jewish slave owners in the South I had never really considered, just because Judaism is based around being freed from slavery,” said Bloom.

 

Both Bloom and McClean expressed their dedication to preparing for their challenging roles. McClean, who has performed in several musicals, admitted he initially felt a bit out of his element getting into the mind of former slave John.

 

“It was terrifying, but it’s so much more work that I was looking forward to getting into about acting, because in musicals, you’ll have a musical number that carries you through and songs that pretty much tell you how to feel. This being my first non-musical, it was a big challenge.”

 

Bloom, who was introduced to the script two years ago by cast mate Darion McCloud, said that his biggest challenge was learning how to communicate with an off-screen character.

 

Cast of The Whipping Man from left to right Mario McClean, Darion McCloud, and Bobby Bloom

“There’s a letter in this show, and I’ve actually never had a letter onstage before,” said Bloom. “I’ve had to create an entirely new relationship with someone who is not even there,

and there’s not even a person playing that character. I’ve had to approach a lot of things differently than I usually approach them.”

 

Performances of “The Whipping Man” will continue for the next week. The show will take a break on the Sabbath, return to the stage March 16, and end its run March 22, three days before Passover. Tickets to “The Whipping Man” are $10 and can be purchased at the CMFA door.

Playing After Dark -- This Friday and Saturday Nights

Neither cartoons, puppets, video games, nor music sound all too foreign.  Unless you’ve been living under a rather sizable rock (or had the misfortune of attending an artistically disinclined South Carolina public school), you’ve undoubtedly encountered each of these creative media before.  But chances are you haven’t encountered them together as a single, collaborative event.

This Friday and Saturday, Pocket Productions affords you the opportunity to do so.  Since 2009, this local arts organization has been expanding the public’s definition of art by exposing Columbia to innovative examples of interdisciplinary artistic cooperation.  Their “Playing After Dark” series, in particular, has introduced audiences to visual, musical, performing, and even culinary arts.

This weekend’s installment of Playing After Dark (titled “1001”) revolves around the unique collaboration between digital and analog art.  It will feature the following performances: Dre and Sammy Lopez of Piensa Art Company will present a combination of digital and analog drawings; Lyon Hill (puppetmaker and puppeteer with the Columbia Marionette Theatre) and Wade Sellers (commercial producer/director and owner of Coal Powered Filmworks) will perform a marionette/cartoon act; Professor Fripples (brilliant young programmer David Hamiter) will show off an audio controlled video game that runs alongside a puppet show; and DJ Deft Key (Entropy Studios’ producer, sound engineer, multi-instrumentalist, and remix artist) and singer/songwriter Bob Benjamin will perform a fusion of digital and acoustic music.

Playing After Dark “1001” begins at 7 pm this Friday and Saturday at CMFA Arts Space (914 Pulaski).  Tickets are available for $10 in advance (online at www.pocketproductions.org), $12 at the door, or $8 with membership.  In addition to the one free drink with admission, fine IPAs, stouts, Merlot, Syraz, and hors d’oeuvre will be available.  The event may also feature a “puppet” boiled peanut stand courtesy of Happiness Bomb (a diverse group of artists, musicians, designers, programmers, and, of course, puppeteers).

For more information about Pocket Productions, check them out on Twitter (twitter.com/PocketProSC) and Facebook (facebook.com/pocketproductions).

 

-- Austin Blaze - intern, Jasper Magazine