Jasper Does Spoleto -- Reviews, Recountings, & Recommendations, part 1 in a series

This year, Jasper has a number of editors and writers on the Spoleto scene in hot and humid Charleston, SC, bringing readers up-to-the-minute reviews and recommendations for how best to program your daytrips and overnighters to the Holy City for some of the best international art to come this way since, well, last year's festival. Also, in the great tradition of fringe festivals worldwide, Piccolo Spoleto also offers the opportunity to see works by both emerging and established artists, both local and from fields afar, for a ticket price that is often significantly less than the often-hefty priced Spoleto festival entrance fees.



A Streetcar Named Desire

Jasper's Picks for this year's festival included the Scottish Ballet's new interpretation of Tennessee Williams' classic Southern drama, A Streetcar Named Desire.

Set to a sultry score by Peter Salem, Scotland's national ballet company cast a spell over the audience at the College of Charleston's Sottile Theatre with an adaptation that was so engaging if was difficult to pay attention to the quality of the dancers' techniques. But when this reviewer could remember to cast a critical eye toward such important building blocks to a successful performance as feet articulation, port de bras, positioning, and execution, she found there was little lacking in the caliber of dancer this company brought to the stage.

A minimalist set consisting primarily of clever lighting and rectangular boxes, some also lit, allowed for  a fluidity that progressed the story of Blanche DuBois, her sister Stella, Stella's man Stanley, and the literally deconstructed Belle Reve plantation along at a surprisingly rapid pace.  With the women costumed in silky chemises and the men in long pants and classic sitting-on-the-stoop-having-a-smoke-and-drinking-a-beer undershirts, and the Charleston humidity fresh on this viewer's bare shoulders, it was easy to be transported to the French Quarter of New Orleans, to find oneself listening for a distant and melancholy saxophone tune to drift by on the wind, to take a deep breath and find filé on the nose. Such was the success of the Scottish Ballet's authentic adaptation of this classic tale. - cb




Sleeping Beauty

Italy’s Carlo Colla and Sons Marionette Company charmed festival audiences with its production of Cinderella in 2010, and returned this year to share their performance of another classic fairy-tale,  Sleeping Beauty.

With 165 meticulously handcrafted puppets and costuming and scenery stunningly hand-painted to complement the story, Eugenio Monti Colla recounts this tale of Aurora with her curses and blessings bestowed according to the original 1697 telling by Charles Perrault, The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood.   

Truly a story for the ages, the performance leaves children mesmerized by the lively marionettes and the tale they weave, and adults enchanted by beauty and intricacy of the tiny actors, which are works of art in and of themselves. - cb


Coming Up -- Haley Sprankle writes about her love affair with Romeo and Juliet, Kyle Petersen writes about opera and chamber music, and Cindi Boiter writes about two Piccolo Spoleto events