Darling Dilettante Does Politics: Cory Alpert 2016

12549026_10206164677129510_1117567439076405965_n by: Haley Sprankle

The University of South Carolina’s student body elections take place today, and it’s no surprise that local actor and arts enthusiast Cory Alpert’s name would come up.

Throughout the community, Alpert has be involved in a myriad of different large-scale projects from spearheading the SC Flood Relief movement within hours of the crisis to helping run and organize events like Famously Hot New Year. He’s been seen working on and backstage at Trustus Theatre, and is even a graduate of their Apprentice Company.

So why does a college election matter to Columbia?

Often, there seems to be a disconnect between the community of Columbia and the university environment. As a student, I’ve found that my peers on campus rarely know about the arts community and all it has to offer, while I’ve also found that my peers in Columbia are rarely aware of the work the students are putting out there.

That’s where Alpert comes in.

I was lucky enough to have the chance to sit down with the student body presidential candidate to get his thoughts on how he can better serve the students, the community, and how he can bridge the gap between the two.

Q: What makes you different from the other candidates?

 

Alpert: Unlike the other candidates, I’ve put forward a platform and a vision for USC that will help move us into the 21st century. My plan is realistic and pragmatic, with an understanding of the limitations of student government. We aren’t promising a fix to parking (which would require a change in state law), and we’re focusing on making USC a more inclusive place. I’ve shown this community my work ethic, and I’ve shown that I know how to get results. I don’t issue empty promises. A lot of that goes back to the community that raised me. I grew up in the Columbia arts community, and that’s become a formative part of who I am. We were taught to dream big and how to find ways to make those dreams a reality. We were taught to love each other unconditionally, even when someone makes a mistake. To me, that’s what we should have in a leader. How do you plan to connect the community of Columbia to the student community of USC?

Over the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know some incredible leaders around the city. I’ve come to believe that USC deserves to have a stronger relationship with the city, and students ought to have access to the incredible resources that we have to offer. I am always disappointed when I don’t see students filling our local theatres, or coming to events on Main Street, or eating at some of the wonderful restaurants in town. That’s something that I think we can fix. The biggest problem is awareness. By partnering with businesses and leveraging the visibility of student government, I’ll be encouraging students to go experience what Columbia has on offer. I’ll also be working with these businesses to make sure they’re coming on campus - that they are reaching out to students. This is about working, not waiting. My administration will be working to make sure that students have access to the career opportunities, leaders, resources, and events that our city has.

What issues do you feel are most important to our campus?

I think there’s a general sense that we’ve had enough talk on campus. There are groups and individuals who are trying to find ways to make this campus better, and they’re being met with a brick wall. We deserve to have leaders who aren’t full of talk. Whether it’s the clear race issues on campus that are arising every year, or the issue of being inclusive for our trans siblings on campus, or even the issues that Student Government has no power over like parking and wifi, students feel like their words are stuck in an echo chamber. It’s time that we have leadership on campus that works collaboratively to make sure that this campus is a better place every day.

You've talked about lowering tuition--how do you plan to actually lobby for and go through with that?

My plan calls for a reduced cost of attendance, and we’ll be working for something called open educational resources. Tuition is set by the state, and it would take something akin to an act of God to reduce that. But one thing that we can feasibly tackle are the cost of textbooks on this campus. After being introduced to OERs, I got really excited and wanted to learn more. Then, my campaign team and I spent a few weeks meeting with OER repositories and doing our research about how they’ve been implemented across the country. What we’ve found is that the average student at USC pays $1,008 per year on textbooks. That skyrockets to $1,500 per semester for freshmen. These costs hit minority and first-generation students the hardest. However, OERs, which are textbooks written by some of the top faculty in the country and used at our peer institutions, can help drive those costs down. While $500 per semester may not seem like much, that’s money that we’re saving students and allowing them to be successful without breaking the bank. The biggest roadblock to their implementation is simply awareness. So we’ll be doing what UMass Amherst did when they saved students over $1 million when they implemented OERs, by sitting down with faculty and academic administration to convince them to switch over to these resources. After a few conversations already, professors at USC are excited about these resources and want to make sure their students have the chance to be successful regardless of their income level. All it takes are a few leaders willing and able to do the work to make the switch a reality.

What are your biggest hopes for this student body if you're president?

At the end of the day, it comes down to having a culture at USC that’s better than when we found it. It’s about being a part of a team that works to make USC a more inclusive and supportive place every single day. I want to leave office and have people feel that they can change this campus for the better. I’m in a really fortunate position, because I don’t need to bolster my resume with this office, so I’m in a great position to work with students and make sure that they can do something great. Student Government ought to work for the students, and it ought to dream big for where we should be. Rather than trying to fix problems that student government has no control over, I’m presenting a vision of a USC that works for every student, and allows them to be successful throughout their lives because of their time on our campus.

____________________________________________________________

 

As a long time friend and fellow advocate of both my school and city, I’ll be voting for Cory today. Let’s start now and change this school for the better!

Check out Cory Alpert's campaign video here.

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What’s the Buzz: USC Lab Theatre produces The Bee-Man of Crighton County

image1By Haley Sprankle Eight chairs line the center of the Lab Theatre at USC. The cast gathers and quickly fills the empty theatre with warmth and energy, as they joke with great wit and chemistry. Director and cast member Grace Ann Roberts engages with her team, interjecting a quick quip or two as they all settle in their seats.

This is the cast for the staged reading of an original play, The Bee-Man of Crighton County, by Ryan Stevens. We last heard from Stevens when discussing his original work Player King, which included Bee-Man cast members Jasmine James, Megh Ahire, and Carrie Chalfant. Other team members for the staged reading include Elizabeth Krawcyzk, Freddie Powers, and USC Theatre MFA student Nicole Dietze.

“Well of course we drew heavily on the USC theater community,” Roberts explains. “We’d all seen each other work, taken classes together, things like that. So there’s already an element of familiarity there, and it’s so much fun.”

The cast has a unique added element of familiarity, however.

“You mean I get to sit next to my daughter?”

Roberts’ father sits down, puts his arm around her, and smiles as bright as day while Roberts dons a look of loving embarrassment that I know all too well.

“The other member is, well… it’s my dad, Kevin Roberts. He plays the Bee Man himself. He’s done several plays before, but we’ve never worked on anything together. That has been such a new experience, for both of us, but it’s also really cool. It’s been fun to watch each other work,” Roberts lovingly adds.

The play follows a story about the people in the small town of Sheol. The people are hopelessly trying to gather historical documents from the local hermit, Ogden Flass (Bee Man), while Julie Guest witnesses it all in the midst of her own existential crisis.

“He [Stevens] and I have worked together a ton, and we really trust each other. He’s a great friend, and I think he’s a great writer too, and I’m happy to have a hand in doing this with him,” Roberts says.

A Columbia native and graduate of both the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities and the University of South Carolina with a focus in theatre at both schools, Roberts is taking on the part of Julie as well as directing the reading.

“I’ve never directed a staged read before, and I’m also cast in it. That wasn’t the original plan but really, at the end of the day, that arrangement has taught me a lot—not only about what you can do as an actor, or how you can bring it to life, but also just how different it is to direct a staged read,” Roberts elaborates. “It’s like… I’m learning too, and I share those lessons with the other cast members. It really feels more like ‘guiding’ than ‘directing.’”

The element of learning doesn’t just end from a directorial or performance perspective, though. Through shared experiences with the South, early adulthood, and family life, Roberts has been able to connect and learn from her character.

“Funny enough, she and I are currently going through pretty similar given circumstances,” she admits. “I just graduated from USC, and am still living in Columbia. Honestly, that wasn’t my initial plan, and I’ll probably be here for a while. Julie is in the same boat: she moves away to start a business, which tanks, and she has to move back to her small town and live with her mom. She and I had similar feelings about the whole thing, too—those feelings being ones of disappointment, sadness, and some anger, too. But, in the same way that her perspective on that changes, I find mine to be changing too. So it’s pretty fun to have that very literal connection to her. She’s helped me to understand how to redefine ‘failure,’ and that feels really good.”

The Bee-Man of Crighton County reading is this Saturday in USC’s Lab Theatre at 7 pm. Admission is free, so come out to support original, local work produced by young emerging artists on the Columbia scene!

“To me, the Bee Man is about blooming where you’re planted. Instead of resisting where you are—geographically, professionally, existentially, what have you—really embracing it, and making the best out of something you once perceived as the worst. I do think, too, it’s unique to the idea of southern community,” Roberts says. “What it means to live in a place where everyone knows everyone, and everyone’s looking out for each other.”

USC’s Southern Exposure Music Series announces 2014-15 season

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The award-winning series of

free, innovative concerts

opens on Sept. 26

 

The University of South Carolina’s Southern Exposure Music Series season is a star-studded year filled with the superb artistic quality and innovative programming that Columbia has come to expect from the Southeast’s most adventurous music series. The award-winning series, in its 13th year, continues to offer concerts for free.

 

This year is a typically diverse season, featuring a hip, hot string quartet (Brooklyn Rider, Sept. 26), a world music giant (the return to Columbia of sitar great Kartik Seshadri, Nov. 14), a classical music legend (soprano Lucy Shelton, with the esteemed Dolce Suono Ensemble, Feb. 25), and ending with the series’ first-ever foray into USC’s brand new music space, the W.W. Hootie Johnson Performance Hall in the Darla Moore School of Business (1014 Greene St) – a rare performance of Louis Andriessen’s gigantic masterpiece De Staat (March 20), featuring USC students and faculty and conducted by Scott Weiss, director of bands.

 

These popular free concerts fill to capacity, but patrons can reserve a seat and support the series for the entire season for $100.

Southern Exposure New Music Series, 2014-15 Season

 

Brooklyn Rider Fri., Sept. 26, 7:30 p.m.

USC School of Music Recital Hall (813 Assembly St)

The Brooklyn-based string quartet has been called “one of the wonders of classical music,” by the LA Times.  They tour and record regularly with the likes of Bela Fleck and Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, and in recent years have performed in one of the more diverse lineups of venues imaginable, including the Ojai Music Festival, the Cologne Philharmonie, the U.S. Open Tennis tournament, Lincoln Center, and Austin’s South by Southwest, where the quartet was the only classical group with an official invitation to play. Their Southern Exposure program will include Philip Glass’s second string quartet, as well works from their latest recording project, the ambitious, cross-disciplinary Brooklyn Rider Almanac (Mercury Classics). http://www.brooklynrider.com/

~~~

Music from India: Kartik Seshadri, sitar and Abhijit Banerjee, table Fri., Nov. 14, 7:30 p.m. USC School of Music Recital Hall (813 Assembly St)

If one can say that any of Southern Exposure’s past concerts deserves the epithet “legendary,” sitar virtuoso Kartik Seshadri’s Southern Exposure performance nearly 10 years ago would surely be among the first mentioned, remembered by those in attendance as a magical, emotionally-charged, unforgettable evening. He is joined by another major figure in Indian classical music, the tabla player Abhijit Banerjee.  http://kartikseshadri.com/

http://www.abhijitbanerjee.com/

~~~

Dolce Suono Ensemble and Soprano Lucy Shelton Wed., Feb. 25, 7:30 p.m.

USC School of Music Recital Hall (813 Assembly St)

Acclaimed singer Lucy Shelton, perhaps contemporary classical’s leading soprano, a “new music diva” with “musicianship, technique and intelligence that are unfailing,” (Boston Globe), Shelton has premiered more than 100 major works by composers that comprise a who’s who of 20th- and 21st-century music, including Elliott Carter, Oliver Knussen, Joseph Schwantner, Charles Wuorinen, Gerard Grisey, David Del Tredici and Ned Rorem. An evening with Philadelphia-based stars Dolce Suono, with a core group of artists from world-renowned Philly institutions like the Curtis Institute of Music and Philadelphia Orchestra, led by flutist Mimi Stillman, is certain to be equally astounding. This concert is comprised of two works that set ancient Chinese poetry, by Pulitzer-prize winner Shulamit Ran and USC’s own Fang Man, and will be preceded by a 6:30 p.m. presentation by Joseph Lam, chair of the Department of Musicology at the University of Michigan.

 http://www.lucyshelton.com/

http://dolcesuono.com/

~~~

Music and Society:  Hartke’s “Sons of Noah” and Andriessen’s ”De Staat”

Fri., March 20, 2015, 7:30 p.m.

W.W. Hootie Johnson Performance Hall

(Moore School of Business 1014 Greene St.)

Performed by a bevy of USC’s world-class faculty and superb students, these major works take on extra-musical topics relating music and society/politics – and, quite apart from any lessons that might be imparted, are masterful, mesmerizing pieces of music. Stephen Hartke’s “Sons of Noah,” featuring USC soprano Tina Stallard and three highly unusual quartets of instruments – classical guitars, flutes and bassoons – sets a short story written during the Crimean War, the first modern conflict between the Islamic world and Europe: a satirical imagining of three “missing chapters of the Bible.” Hartke’s music has echoes of old and new styles, from the Middle Ages and Renaissance to Igor Stravinsky, and strikes a powerful emotional chord. Dutch post-minimalist icon Louis Andriessen’s De Staat (which, while composed in an entirely different style than Sons of Noah, also owes something to the rhythmic legacy of Stravinsky) sets texts from Plato’s Republic. The big, robust work with a large number of singers, brass, woodwinds, strings, pianos and electric guitars onto the stage will blow the roof off of the new hall!

"The 39 Steps" at USC's Longstreet Theatre - a review by Jillian Owens

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Do you enjoy mystery, intrigue, espionage, ridiculous accents, and fast-paced gender-bending craziness?  Do you also happen to be a fan of the films of Alfred Hitchcock? If your answers to these questions is no, just stop reading this right now (because I  probably don’t like you very much). If your answer is yes, you’re in luck! Based on the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock classic of the same name, The 39 Steps (adapted by Patrick Barlow from the novel by John Buchan) at USC’s Longstreet Theatre is almost word-for-word the same script as the film.

The plot is simple. An innocent man by the name of Richard Hannay (played by Josiah Laubenstein) meets a beautiful German woman who turns out to be a spy. She ends up murdered in his apartment, but in her last breaths warns him that he must save England from an act of terrorism that could happen at any time. He ends up blamed for her murder and must try to stop this nefarious scheme without getting caught by the police who are hot on his trail. But there’s a twist! While the words and plot are essentially the same, the play veers off into being a zany comedy that reminds one of Monty Python or Benny Hill. Oh yes...and the multiple roles of the play are played by just 4 actors.

You might think this sounds like a mean-spirited jab at Mr. Hitchcock, but it isn’t. It’s more like poking fun at a dear old friend. Overdone and campy with silly sight gags and bawdy physical comedy, The 39 Steps is hilarious. While we only see 4 actors, the multitudinous technical crew is working its crazed magic behind the scenes, with rapid-fire costume, lighting, sound, and set changes. 22 of Hitchcock’s other works are referenced in this production as well...can you spot them all?

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I was a bit nervous as I entered the theatre. This production of The 39 Steps appeared  to be cursed. The ice storm of the previous week led to every theatre technician’s worst nightmare...not being able to work for five days when your show is supposed to be in technical rehearsal the week before your opening. Whether the treacherous ice that shut down USC was a result of some unsuperstitious sort uttering the name of The Scottish Play or just lousy luck, the 50+ cast and crew members of The 39 Steps were in a bind. When department chair Jim Hunter explained all of this in his pre-curtain speech, I groaned a little inside. Was this basically a pre-emptive apology for what was going to be a sloppily-executed production?  I’m pleased to say: Jim, you can scrap that speech. All of the around-the-clock last-minute building and tweaking paid off, and The 39 Steps went off without a visible or audible hiccup.

The two guest co-directors, Jim Helsinger and Brad DePlanche,prove to be a dynamic duo in executing an extremely demanding production. The set by Xuemei Cao is gorgeous and ever-changing, but it almost seemed too large for the play. The lighting design by Ashley Pittman and the sound design by Britt Sandusky were no small feats either. I’m going to do something that almost never happens in theatre reviews and congratulate the Stage Manager, Lacey Taylor, for managing and calling an extremely difficult show under some pretty scary circumstances.

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But what good is a technically spot-on show without the actors to bring the story to life? Josiah Laubenstein is a fine and upstanding Richard Hannay with a talent for physical comedy. Melissa Reed handles the roles of his multiple love interests (with multiple accents) with endearing panache. Still...my favorite scenes in this production were with James Costello and Trey Hobbs who played countless characters. It’s rare to see two actors who have such a great comedic chemistry together. I overheard several audience members (who apparently don’t read their programs) ask, “Are they brothers?”

The 39 Steps is one of the funniest shows I’ve seen in over a decade, and definitely one of my favorite Theatre South Carolina Productions. Unfortunately, this show has a very limited run and this is your last weekend to catch it, which I hope you will. You’ll have a frightfully fun time.

~ Jillian Owens

Show times are 8pm Wednesday-Friday, and 7pm Saturday. There is an additional half-price late night performance on the final Saturday, March 1. Tickets for the production are $12 for students, $16 for USC faculty/staff, military personnel and seniors 60+, and $18 for the general public. Tickets can be purchased in advance by calling 803-777-2551 or by visiting the Longstreet Theatre box office, which is open Monday-Friday, 12:30pm-5:30pm. Longstreet Theatre is located at 1300 Greene St.  For more information about The 39 Steps or the theatre program at the University of SC, contact Kevin Bush via phone at 803-777-9353 or email at bushk@mailbox.sc.edu.

Jasper's Two Cents on TwoSense

 

TwoSense Live

The Southern Exposure New Music Series kicks off its 2013-2014 concert season on Friday, October 11, with a 7:30 PM concert featuring the cello/piano duo TwoSense. A lineage of performances tracing its route through Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, the Barbican, and Bang on a Can All-Stars, cellist Ashley Bathgate and pianist Lisa Moore will perform a concert of new and contemporary works by composers Martin Bresnick and Kate Moore, and two premieres of works by Jack Perla and Paul Dresher. The program spans from mercurial, angular pieces to jazz and world-music-inspired eclecticisms, all to be revealed by a duo of performers with wildly positive critical acclaim.

Before the evening’s concert, TwoSense will give a variety of talks and masterclasses, including a discussion of commissioning and performing new works from 1:10-2:00 PM in the USC School of Music Recital Hall (as a composer, I approve this message), and the composer Martin Bresnick will be giving a masterclass and composition talk from 2:30-4 PM, also in the USC School of Music Recital Hall. In addition, area artist Adrian Rhodes will have visual artwork on display in the gallery at the USC School of Music prior to the main event.

The concert and the events are part of the Opera-Tunity Foundation’s Celebration of Women Artists. All events are open to the public and free.

-Tom Dempster

"The Shape of Things" at USC's Benson Theatre - a must-see this weekend!

This is not a theatre review.  Not exactly anyway.  This is more of a stream of consciousness reflection on a show that opens tonight (Friday April 11) - The Shape of Things by Neil LaBute, featuring some very talented young actors, most undergrads at USC.  I was fortunate enough to see a rehearsal earlier this week. The show only runs for two performances, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 PM, at the Benson Theatre on the USC campus.  Benson was once the old elementary school for the Wheeler Hill neighborhood, right around the corner from Bates, just off Pickens Street at the top of the hill.  (Or "near where the old Purple Onion used to be," in Columbia-speak.) The Facebook "event" page is here.

shape of things 5LaBute is known for small-cast, ultra-realistic plays that tackle issues of relationships and ethics in contemporary society. Two similar works, Fat Pig and reasons to be pretty, were produced at Trustus in 2009 and 2010 respectively.  All three feature a likeable, ordinary schlub as protagonist, here a mild-mannered English major (Adam, played by Dillon Ingram) on the 6-year plan, juggling jobs as museum gallery guard and video store clerk.  All feature a cocky, misogynistic best friend who's a bit of a tool, but whose natural, believable dialogue with the lead reveals the way "normal guys" interact and look at life these days. (If I were LaBute's real-life buddy, I'd be saying "Hey wait a sec - you tryin' to say something here?")  All feature one or more attractive women, at least one of whom is scorned or betrayed, and one who causes the lead to re-examine fundamental values and aspects of his life. All explore themes about how physical appearance relates to self-image, self-worth, and relationships.

(L-R) Dillon Ingram, Katie Foshee, Patrick Dodds, Catherine Davenport

Here the playwright raises some really important, really uncomfortable, and ultimately unanswerable questions:  what if your girlfriend inspires you to be a more confident and assertive person?  What if she encourages you to work out, eat better, and get in shape?  Sounds pretty sweet, especially if she is a fabulous artsy babe, a little older, worldlier, and more passionate about life. But at what stage does "you make me want to be a better man" become "you don't love the man I am?"  And what if the gender roles are reversed?  What if an ordinary young woman is ready to marry a boyfriend who is only 5 or 6 personality traits/flaws away from being perfect?  Is she tolerant, loving and accepting... or settling for a guy who doesn't deserve her?  What if she becomes attracted to a more compatible male friend...but only after he loses weight and becomes more confident?  Does that make her suddenly insightful?  Or awfully superficial?

As the "manic pixie dream girl" (described by director Bakari Lebby in his guest blog a few days ago) determined to remake her man in her chosen image, Katie Foshee starts the show as a defiant, Nirvana T-shirt-clad rebel, preparing to deface a statue as an artistic statement against censorship. We expect the plot to center around the nature of "What Is Art?" subjective vs. objective, but soon we're into the deeper, darker territory of intimacy and betrayal.  Or are we?  Elegant, icy, calmly assertive in 5-inch heels and a mini-skirt as she presents her MFA project towards the end, Foshee gives a very subtle, under-stated performance.    Is Evelyn - yes, the main couple are Adam and Eve(lyn), if there's any question as to the universality LaBute is channeling - a free spirit, an extremely experimental artist, a manipulative and bitchy girlfriend, or a sociopath?  Possibly all of the above, but nothing is as it seems, and a plot twist that was foreshadowed extensively and repeatedly caught me totally by surprise, thanks to Foshee’s commitment to and underplayed portrayal of her character.  Dillon Ingram starts out resembling a cross between Patrick Wilson in Watchmen and Johnny Galecki in Big Bang Theory, which is appropriate, given the Leonard-Penny vibe that Adam and Evelyn have. Indeed, the wacky beauty and the uptight establishment type turn up everywhere in pop culture, from Hepburn and Grant in Bringing Up Baby, to Dharma and Greg.  Yet as above, things are not as they seem, and plentiful references to literary predecessors like Pygmalion and Frankenstein that explore the relationship of the creator to his creation  only hint at some of the complex turns the plot takes. In retrospect, even random references to films like Blade Runner, a movie in which some creations seek out their creator looking for answers, while others are oblivious to their real nature, seem unlikely to have been coincidental.

Katie Foshee as Evelyn, the "manic pixie dream girl"

Patrick Dodds, the only non-USC student involved, first blew me away a year and a half ago in Spring Awakening, with his heart-breaking portrayal of Moritz, a boy unraveling before our eyes.  Just a few months later he was rocking out as a smooth T-Bird singing "Magic Changes" in Grease, and a few months beyond that he was singing Andrew Lloyd Weber songs in Dreamcoat.  Here Dodds successfully creates yet another entirely different persona, ostensibly a stereotypical chauvinist college dude, yet still a real human being with genuine feelings. I once wrote that as Moritz, he reminded me of the angsty young Pete Townshend; here, with a cocky attitude and his long jaw, sharp nose and dark wavy hair, Dodds bears more than a little resemblance to the young Bruce Campbell. If they ever film Campbell's best-selling autobiography, Dodds needs to play the lead. Catherine Davenport likewise takes a stock role (the wholesome college girl ready for marriage) and creates a sympathetic and three-dimensional character.

rehearsing "The Shape of Things"

The great work by the young cast and first-time director Bakari Lebby points to the importance of arts education in our schools, as well as charting a sort of Six Degrees of Local Theatre Separation.  Dodds, Davenport and Ingram were all theatre students of Jeannette Arvay Beck at Dreher, while Foshee studied with Monica Wyche at Blythewood, and Lebby studied with E. G. Heard at Heathwood. Heard played a LaBute heroine herself a couple years ago at Trustus (indeed, a sociopathic one, according to one review) and directed Lebby, Davenport and Foshee in last summer's Camp Rock at Workshop; her assistant director for that show, Samantha Elkins, alternated with Heard as Maggie the Cat last year, and played Davenport's mother in Brighton Beach Memoirs in January. Both Heard and Elkins stopped by the rehearsal I attended to offer some tips and notes for their young protégés.

shape of things 4

Director Lebby is of course limited by the intimate space and shoestring budget of an all-student production in Benson, but at this tech rehearsal he was experimenting with creative lighting and tone-complementing musical effects. The play is almost all dialogue, in generic apartments, galleries and campus locales, and LaBute's ultra-realistic script forces the characters into certain directions and choices no matter what. Still, we see Lebby's artistic vision so clearly and beautifully in the show's final moments, as a sole figure is left to reflect on what has just transpired, and Lebby allows the moment to play out naturally, with perfect music and lighting enhancing the mood.  Lebby just finished a successful run in The Color Purple, and one would have to be insane to simultaneously be rehearsing a lesser-known, quirky show in a bare, alternative space after success in a name-brand play... yet I did the same damn thing in my senior year in college, so I have to give him a huge shout-out.  Foshee and Dodds are both performers whose work I have admired for a while now, and it's so nice to see them get the chance to delve into meaty character roles.  Foshee and Ingram will be heading off to seek their fortunes on the west coast after graduation, so now may be your last chance to see them; Dodds, on the other hand, needs to enroll his ass in USC's drama program right now, and any parental/authority figures reading this may quote me, because he has mad potential.

I normally try to avoid talking too much about the type of shows I enjoy, or specific performers whose work I admire, but see above - this isn't a real review, so, like, dig it.  For me, you could have successive nights of Hugh Jackman doing Les Mis live with a million-dollar stage set.... and I'd still rather see four dedicated kids on a bare stage doing something meaningful to them.  This show is sometimes described as a dark comedy, a serio-comedy, or a "dramedy."  I'd describe it as a dark fable about contemporary relationships and society, set in the context of college dating, with some great moments of humor (in the vein of perhaps Sex and the City or Friends) as well as some chilling implications about the choices that people make for love.

As above, The Shape of Things only runs for two performances, tonight and tomorrow at 8 PM, at the Benson Theatre on the USC campus. The Facebook "event" page is here.

~ August Krickel

Southern Exposure New Music Series: Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians

  Steve Reich

One of the most compelling parts of Columbia’s arts scene is the Southern Exposure New Music Series, a series of FREE concerts put on by the nonprofit each year that explore contemporary classical and world compositions as well as some of the masterworks of the 20th century. The shows are often standing room only affairs, largely because of the depth and quality of the performances, which have a reputation for being wildly eclectic and stunning in equal measure.

If you’ve never been, consider going this weekend to a performance of Steve Reich’s seminal Music for 18 Musicians. Reich is perhaps the definitive composer of the second half of the 20th century, and this is his most famous piece—a gorgeous work of pulsating musical minimalism that builds (and contracts) ever-so-slowly as melodies and harmonies are gradually added to create a mesmerizing, hypnotic effect that is best experience live. The 18 musicians comes from the fact that the piece requires at a minimum four pianists, six percussionists, four female singers, two clarinetists, a violinist, and a cellist—parts which will be ably handled by 18 of USC’s most talented students in the School of Music (many of whom will be also be tackling more than one instrument in the course of the performance). Directing the work is USC piano professor Phillip Bush (who is also performing—the composition is traditionally performed without a conductor), who has played the piece numerous times around the world with Reich himself. Bush will also be giving a short talk before each performance.

Here’s  a complete performance available on YouTube (you really have to see it live though):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXJWO2FQ16c

 

And, in the tradition of the increasingly collaborative arts scene we have in Columbia, local painter Blake Morgan will have his paintings on exhibit in the gallery for both performances. His involvement is sponsored by Pocket Productions!

A note on composer: Reich’s music always feels like waves upon waves of sound to me—while the careful the listener can note the subtle, ceaseless shifts in rhythm, melody, and harmony, there is something visceral about the listening experience as well, that hits you in the gut. That’s likely the reason Reich’s music has enjoyed such popularity outside of traditional contemporary music circles as well. While his compositions are usually debuted in the finest concert halls at this point (a stark contrast from his earlier years, when his work was shunned by the elites), Reich still gets an audience outside of those confines, even at rock festivals. Check out this video, where Reich and Bang On A Can’s Dave Cossin perform to whopping audience at the rock-centered Bloc festival in east London.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=lesDb9GsQm4

The series will be giving two performances of Music for 18 Musicians: on Friday and Saturday, April 12-13, 7:30pm, at the USC School of Music Recital Hall, 813 Assembly Street (next to the Koger Center), 2nd Floor. Admission, as always, is free.

 

K. Petersen, Jasper Music Editor

Correction: The original post incorrectly stated that Blake Morgan would be painting live during the performance. He will not be.

Making “the shape of things” happen: confessions of a twenty-two-year-old first-time director - a guest blog by Bakari Lebby

Hi!   I’m Bakari!   I hope you’re having a great day so far.   Me?    I’m pretty good, I suppose.   Jasper told me that I can be as informal as I would like to with this, so here goes. Here’s a synopsis that I wrote for my upcoming production of the shape of things, by Neil LaBute:

When Evelyn, a quirky art student, and Adam start dating, Adam’s friends notice that his appearance begins changing rapidly. Adam is transforming into a more attractive person and as time moves on, his attitude also begins to change. His friends take notice and respond in conflicting manners.

Pretty good, right? That took me about 30 minutes to write.

I’m going to try and explain the production process a bit, and just ramble in text;  I hope this makes sense, but I make no promises.

This show came together through Green Room Productions, a student-run organization at the University of South Carolina.  Back in November, I got it in my head that I wanted to direct this play in Benson Theatre, so I wrote a proposal and sent it to Green Room.  They got back to me in late January, I held auditions, pulled a cast together, blah blah blah, and now we have a show!  A lot of people ask me:  “Is this for you to graduate or something?” Which really sounds like “Why the hell did you go this out of your way for no payment or credit hours?”

shape of tuings

I have a couple reasons. I realize that we as undergraduates at the University of South Carolina don’t get as many opportunities for leading roles in demanding material.  Dillon Ingram (Adam), for instance, is a great actor whom I’ve seen on the mainstage at Carolina, but I felt that he would kill in a leading role.   Also, I really wanted to direct something that people aren’t getting at Carolina.   I felt that the shape of things was just the thing I was looking for.   I’ve always been a LaBute fan, and even though he had many other works to choose from, I knew this was the one, the one for me.   It’s funny, it’s unsettling, it’s vulgar, and most of all it’s real.  The dialogue is very real.  The plot is very real.  Even though there is a bit of hyperbole, this play talks about things that happen that we may choose to ignore when it becomes too personal.  Things like art and the concept of being cultured, being attractive and how far being attractive will get you, and infidelity. Especially infidelity.  No one ever wants to talk about it, and I don’t think that’s fair, because it happens.  I guess where I’m going with this is that I think people will see parts of themselves all over the show.  Hopefully audiences will question themselves later that evening or the next day.  So, that’s kind of a roundabout way of me explaining why I chose this play.

Still with me?

I have a super cool cast.  They are all amazing actors, but I don’t think that’s the only reason they’re so super cool.   It’s also because none of them are playing roles that they are used to playing.   For an actor, or one who is at all ambitious, that’s the dream. This is like anti-typecasting.   Patrick Dodds (Phillip) actually told me a few days ago that this is so cool to him, because he’s “never really played a dick onstage before”.  That’s a very basic illustration of the character, but I know what he meant, which is why I cast the kids that way.  It’s also intriguing for audiences to see actors trying new stuff. I acted in Camp Rock last summer at Workshop Theatre with Katie Foshee (Evelyn) and Catherine Davenport (Jenny).   The difference in roles between these two shows could not be more extreme.   I feel like I should have a poster that says “Come see Doody from Grease and Mitchie from Camp Rock say a bunch of bad words on stage!”   Or not.   That looks so much crazier written down than it did in my head.   Speaking of things that look less crazy in my head, directing anything of this length is new for me.   I’ve done things like music videos and small sketches, but never a full-length play.   I’m sure the cast can agree, sometimes things make more sense in my head than they do out loud.   But give me a break, I’m learning.

shape of things

 

shape of things 5

Directing is weird.  It’s cool, but it’s weird.  Mostly because it’s so interesting to see things come together and watch characters grow, but also because it’s so time consuming.  We’ve been doing a lot of stuff when not rehearsing, like discovering props and set pieces and painting and building and designing sound and finding set and lighting designers and SCHEDULING ANYTHING.   It’s so worth it though.   Also, the team I’m working with is awesome.   The stage manager, Lauren Pace, who was assistant stage manager for  Legally Blonde at Workshop this season, keeps me in line and sane. Samantha Elkins has been coming through in the clutch, helping me as an assistant director.   She rocks, because I love having a second eye, and especially a trained second eye.   I also like having an untrained second eye, which is why I brought in my boy Chris Pickering. He’s a theatre virgin, and my assistant stage manager.   I asked him if he wanted to be Prop Master General, and he responded “I have no idea how to do any of this, but yeah!”   He really put the team on his back.   He also helps a ton, because he can be a “normal person” when I need that viewpoint.   If that makes any sense.   So, I feel that the team is pretty clutch.   And I’m extremely grateful that they’re all on top of it.   Especially considering that I do a million things at once.   I’m currently a full-time theatre major at the University of South Carolina), a part-time employee at Sid & Nancy, a local musician, and an actor.   I actually just finished performing in Workshop Theatre’s production of The Color Purple on Saturday. Directing a show while being in a show makes for very little sleep and a lot of forgetting to eat dinner. Supposedly that’s unhealthy or something.

shape of things 3

This production is totally worth seeing, because you’ll see a boy-meets-girl story that isn’t at all what you’ll think it will be.   You will see the pains of being an artist in a small town, or the confusion of art and wondering where it crosses the line.   You’ll hear a soundtrack that only uses local and regional music.   It tackles the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, or MPDG, trope, because I think it’s nice to see a side of American storytelling where the depressed boy realizes that MPDG's aren’t real,  AND where the female lead who seems to be the MPDG is more than just a cutesy shell of a human.   She’s an actual person with plans and thoughts. If you have no idea what a MPDG is, I believe this article should help, but think Natalie Portman in Garden State, Kirsten Dunst in Elizabethtown, or Zooey Deschanel in anything she is ever in ever. Actually, for all of the characters. This production takes notice that even though the world around us may be black and white, no human being is two dimensional. People are still people.

So, please come see it, Soda City. I think you’ll like it.

~ Bakari Lebby

the shape of things, a stageplay by Neil LaBute, will be performed at Benson Theatre (301 Pickens Street) on April 12 and 13 at 8 PM. Tickets will be $5 at the door.

 

The “Angry Vagina” Speaks -- A Guest Blog by Wanda Jewell

I have always wanted to belong to an underground radical movement for good. That’s why I got involved with The Vagina Monologues. Well, it's not so underground now, but it felt underground when I first auditioned about 15 years ago.

 

I was so excited to be a part of the show. That first director videotaped each of us introducing ourselves because she had so many people auditioning. I remember thinking how was I going to distinguish myself, and when I got behind the video camera, I said as proud as you please, "Hi, I'm Vagina Jewell!” I didn’t have a part in mind when I first auditioned, but “The Angry Vagina” turned out to be the one for me. I loved getting to be so angry, and the audience was so entertained with my rage that it just further enraged me. We did two performances that year, and I loved every minute of it.

The year after my debut as The Angry Vagina, I wanted to do the monologue again. I had thought all year about all the ways I could make it funnier and better. The show was having difficulty finding a director that year, so I talked a friend of mine into directing the performance, and another friend wrote an original poem on the that year's topic and performed it as the closing of the show. It was at the Koger Center, and we only had one chance to do it right. But it was a magical night. For weeks afterwards, everywhere I went, people would say, "I know you—you were the Angry Vagina. You were so funny." And that felt wonderful to be recognized for my participation in this not-so-underground radical movement for good. We had the cast party at my house, and I loved being around so many women from so many different walks—of various ages, races, interests—but the one thing we had in common was the radical notion that women should be treated like people! “The Angry Vagina” was a great part, and I knew I had to share it. I’ve taken ten years off, but I'm back in The Vagina Monologues and so excited. Ironically, I'm not nearly so angry anymore, and therefore, I'm able to have so much more fun with the part. I'm a good deal older than I was then, too, and the young women involved in this year’s production are inspiring, generous, and hilarious! Who doesn’t want to be a part of that? And if we can do some good along the way, even better. This one is rising!

 

The Vagina Monologues takes place on February 15 through 17 at 8:00 p.m. at the USC Law School Auditorium (701 Main St.).  Tickets cost $8 for students and $10 for the public. Proceeds will be donated to Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands. (Find out more at vmonologuesusc.wordpress.com.)

Jillian Owens reviews "Compleat Female Stage Beauty" at USC's Longstreet Theatre

  The timing could not be better for Theatre South Carolina’s production of Jeffrey Hatcher’s Compleat Female Stage Beauty, directed by Gary Logan.  Gay rights and gender equality have been hot button issues this election season, and both of these are woven intricately into the tapestry of this poignant and bawdy production.

In 1660, Edward Kynaston is sitting pretty as the most famous leading lady in the London theatre scene.   After 18 years of Puritan rule, England is experiencing a renaissance of theatre, fashion, and decadence.  Called "the loveliest lady that ever I saw in my life" by Samuel Nicolas, Edward is loved and admired for his brilliant portrayal of tragic female roles.  When King Charles II signs a law allowing women to act on the stage, his career is ruined, and his entire identity is called into question.

This show features a new crop of USC Theatre's MFA candidates.  Melissa Peters immersed herself in  extensive movement and vocal work to develop the role of Kynaston.  “The shape of the pelvis changes a lot about how we move,” she told Otis Taylor of The State.  Her hard work has paid off.  You completely forget that she is a she, and instead can only see her as Edward Kynaston.  While Kynaston was the last of his kind, his rival Margaret Hughes was the first of her kind.  Kate Dzvonik is lovely and charismatic in this role.  However, she is difficult to understand through her thick accent.  Most of her performance comes off as one-dimensional, but she is positively winning in her final scene.  Leeanna Rubin makes a hilarious and raunchy Nell Gwynn, the popular mistress of King Charles II (played by Cory Lipman).  Stephen Ingle is  playfully perverse as Kynaston’s  fey and foppish antagonist, Sir Charles Sedley—who suceeds in being both mincing and menacing.

April Andrews has earned accolades for her amazing costumes, and Xuemei Cao’s set is cleverly transformative.  The transitions between scenes are scored by Matthew Nielson, and are evocative of the period.

Compleat Female Stage Beauty reminds us of the progress that has been made in our society’s acceptance those who are gay and transgendered.  Yes—there is much progress to be made, but at least gays can marry in nine states.  The risk of being pelted with excrement onstage for being a homosexual has lessened considerably since the 1600’s as well.  But, the question of what it means to be man or a woman is still a question that continues to pop up in conversation…whether we’re discussing transgendered youths being admitted into the Girl Scouts, gays in the military, or even whether boys should be allowed to wear pink.  The discussion of sexual and gender identity have become major political issues.

While addressing serious subject matter, this show still manages to be quite funny.  Hatcher has written a cleverly witty script, and the cast manages the delicate balance of capturing  every humorous moment without becoming farcical or irreverent.

Compleat Female Stage Beauty is a darkly comical, but  touching production.  It brings humanity to issues that are easy to think of as being merely political and abstract.  Due to its mature subject matter and some partial nudity, this is definitely an adults-only show.

~ Jillian Owens

Show times are 8pm Wednesdays-Fridays, and 7pm Saturdays.  There is an additional half-price late night performance on Saturday, November 17 at 11pm.   Tickets for the production are $12 for students, $16 for USC faculty/staff, military personnel and seniors 60+, and $18 for the general public.  Tickets can be purchased by calling 803-777-2551 or by visiting the Longstreet Theatre box office, which is open Monday-Friday, 12:30pm-5:30pm.

 

 

 

"The Importance of Being Earnest" at USC's Longstreet Theatre - a Review by Jillian Owens

Originally billed as “A Trivial Comedy for Serious People,” The Importance of Being Earnest gets a fun and funky 1960’s reboot in the new Theatre South Carolina production of Oscar Wilde’s last and best-known play. The plot of this rollicking farce is perhaps best expressed in the line, “The truth is rarely pure, and never simple.”  John and Algernon are close pals with double lives.  John (aka Jack) avoids his somber life of responsibilities in the country by inventing a brother by the name of Ernest, whom he constantly has to visit, to rescue him from some scrape or another.  Algernon (aka Algy), on the other hand, frequently escapes to the country to avoid unwelcome social obligations, claiming to visit his imaginary (and always sickly) buddy, "Bunbury."

This arrangement serves them both well, until John (who is living as "Ernest" in the city) falls in love with Algy’s cousin Gwendolen.  Gwendolen’s mother, Lady Bracknell, is appalled to discover Ernest/John is an orphan, found in a handbag at Victoria Station.  To escape her disapproval, Gwendolen and Ernest/John plan to elope in the country.  Little do they know, Algy overhears their plans, and decides to have a bit of his own fun.  After finding out John has a beautiful young ward by the name of Cecily at his country estate, he shows up posing as John’s rascally younger brother...."Ernest."

 

Traditional Wildean wit, hilarity and clever banter ensue.  Even those who have never seen this play performed live will remember many of Wilde’s signature one-liners.  Both Gwendolyn and Cecily are determined that they can only love a man by the name of Ernest, and certainly not John or Algy!  The play is a searing commentary on the frivolity and insincerity of Victorian culture.  Wilde believed “that we should take all the trivial things of life seriously, and all the serious things of life with sincere and studied triviality.”

This production was cleverly re-set from 1895 to some time in the 1960’s with go-go dancers, a terrific retro score, a set that would be any Anglophile’s dream, and wildly flamboyant costumes.  And it works.  Director Robert Richmond is obviously aware that with a show so dialogue-heavy, a modern audience could easily get bored.  There is absolutely no opportunity for boredom in this intensely high-energy production.  The actors are constantly in movement (a benefit of this production being done in the round), and the dance numbers between scenes are expertly choreographed by Emily Gonzalez (more on her later).

I always look forward to seeing a production at USC, as their shows easily have the most consistently high production values in Columbia.  This show was no exception.  The fun and adaptive set by Kimi Maeda transforms perfectly from a swinging 60’s bachelor pad to a happy hippie garden.  The costumes are simply brilliant.  Elizabeth Coffin displays an amazing amount of talent here, especially for an undergrad.  They are wild, colorful, clever, and beautifully executed with an intense attention to detail.

Pictured: From left, Danielle Peterson (as Gwendolen), Liam MacDougall (as Algernon) and William Vaughan (as Jack)

I was surprised to discover that the cast for this show was all undergraduates.  Usually Theatre South Carolina relies much more heavily on its graduate students.  Emily Gonzalez makes a delightfully naive Cecily Cardew, and her choreography gives this show the jolt of energy it needs to maintain the interest of a modern audience.  Rocco Thompson delivers a particularly hilarious standout performance as Lady Bracknell.  Liam Macdougall’s Algernon is funny and fey, though difficult to understand at times.  Danielle Peterson seemed a bit stiff and uncomfortable in her role as Gwendolen, almost as if she were playing the role 15 years older than it was intended.  But her spot-on sense of comedic timing more than compensates for this.  William Vaughan plays off his fellow actors well as an exuberant though put-upon John/Ernest.  All of the actors do a fine job, especially for being such a young group with varying levels of experience.

The Importance of Being Earnest makes for a delightfully witty way to spend an evening.  So go ahead…take a walk on the Wilde side.

~ Jillian Owens

The show runs through Sat. Oct. 13th at USC's Longstreet Theatre.  Show times are 8 pm Wednesdays-Fridays, 7 pm Saturdays and 3 pm on the first Sunday.  There is an additional half-price late night performance on Saturday, October 13 at 11 pm.   Tickets for the production are $12 for students, $16 for USC faculty/staff, military personnel and seniors 60+, and $18 for the general public.  Tickets can be purchased by calling 803-777-2551 or by visiting the Longstreet Theatre box office, which is open Monday-Friday, 12:30 pm-5:30 pm.

 

USC Symphony Season Opens this Thursday with Violinist David Kim

While you can gripe all you want about the University of South Carolina's stranglehold on downtown real estate or the reverence paid to their various athletic events, it is important to recognize how important the university is to the cultural engine of this town, across all disciplines. The USC Symphony, and guest season opener violinist David Kim, are both prime examples of this phenomenon.

Kim, currently the concertmaster at the Philadelphia Orchestra, is one of the finest violinist in the country and frequently performs all around the world. He also, coincidentally, is sort of from Columbia. Kim's parents moved to Columbia when the young violinist was only 8 years old. As a child prodigy, he ended up flying to New York City every other week to take lessons from the legendary pedagogue Dorothy DeLay, but mostly spent his formative years enriching the Columbia art scene. The reason Kim ended up in Columbia, where he wasn't born? His parents both got jobs at USC. Although he would eventually jet off to earn multiple degrees from Julliard and be the lone American to place in the 1986 International Tchaikovsky Competition, he still considers Columbia, and we get to consider him ours.

For this opening performance (Thursday, Sept. 20th, 7pm, Koger Center for the Arts), Kim will be dazzling the audience with Max Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor,Op. 26, a well-known concerto perfect for demonstrating his talents. The orchestra will also perform the Symphony No. 4 in E minor by Johannes Brahms.

For more information on ticket sales for this event, got to http://capitoltickets.com/. For the full season, visit http://www.music.sc.edu/ea/orchestra/. For David Kim himself, go to http://davidkimviolin.com/. For even more bonus points, check out Kim's latest recording, The Lord Is My Shepherd, a collection of sacred works for violin and piano with pianist and composer Paul S. Jones, on Spotify. 

University Theatre Program To Stage Undergraduates’ Original Works - Guest blog by Kevin Bush

Three plays written and directed by university theatre majors will be premiered February 15-26, 2012 when the University of SC Department of Theatre and Dance presents a festival of Original Works.

The History of Elizabeth I, written by senior Jeffrey Earl in the heightened language style of Shakespeare, will be performed February 15-19 at Benson Theatre, located at the corner of Pickens and Whaley Streets. Show times are 8pm each evening.  Admission is $5.  Tickets are available only at the door.

Tomfoolery, a commedia dell'Arte play by senior Brittany Price Anderson, and Good Mourning, a dark story of grieving by junior Jake Mesches, will be performed together February 23-26 at the Lab Theatre, 1400 Wheat St.  Show times are 8pm each evening.  Ticket cost to see both shows is $5; tickets are available only at the door.

 

 

The History of Queen Elizabeth I Jeffrey Earl describes The History of Queen Elizabeth I as a "continuation of Shakespeare's "history" plays," written in the manner of Elizabethan theatre.  The story dramatizes the attempt of Mary, Queen of Scots to seize the throne from Elizabeth I.

Earl notes that while the script is in the style of Shakespeare, it still contains 21st century references.  “I hope to show the importance of heightened language and verse, even when written by contemporary authors," he says.

Earl is wearing other hats in addition to writing and directing.  He composed transition and underscored music for the play, and, with the guidance of Professor Lisa Martin-Stuart, is also designing costumes for the production.  He is designing the set, lighting and sound, as well.

Actors in the production are: Kayla Cahill, Danielle Peterson, Rocco Thompson, Liam MacDougall, Dillon Ingram, Esteban Nevarez, Hunter Bolton, Ait Fetterolf, Adam Bintz, Steven Canada, Andrea Wurzburger and Rachel Player.  Mallory Shirley will stage manage, with assistance from John Floyd.  Earl received additional faculty support from Victor Holtcamp, assistant professor of theatre, and Nina Levine, associate professor of English.

Tomfoolery Conceived and performed in the style of commedia dell’Arte, the traditional Italian form of improvisational theatre, Tomfoolery is described by its creator and director Brittany Price Anderson as a “zany, naughty, slapstick fairy tale.”

Dating from the 16th century, commedia dell’Arte is a theatre form in which stock characters, such as two lovers, a merchant and servants, find themselves trying to make sense of often humorous scenarios filled with mix-ups, mayhem and monkey-business.  Each evening, a cast of six will take on the classic commedia roles in traditional masks, which they have created themselves.

Created as part of her senior thesis project for the SC Honors College, with the guidance of theatre professor Jim O’Connor and associate professor Sarah Barker, Anderson says her goal with the project is enable her cast of actors to “create a story in which every person in the cast has an equal share.”

“Our jumping off point is a ‘dirty fairy tale” set in a world of where royalty and magic co-exist, so the only restrictions we have are our imaginations,” she says.

Actors in the production are:  Tyler Carolan, Sirena Dibb, Vincent King, Katie McCuen, Emily Olyarchuk and Finn Smith.  Michelle Ouhl will serve as stage manager for the production.

Good Mourning Grieving over a loved one is no less than torture in Jake Mesches’ play, Good Mourning.

The dark one-act begins with a recent widower being held captive by a masked man who guides him through the psychological horrors of the grieving process.  As his maltreatment continues, the widower finds he has the choice of either giving in to his captor’s abuse or fight to the final stage of grief: acceptance.

Mesches says his goal of the piece is no less than what he believes theatre is designed to do – to confront his audience with a reality they may not be aware of.  “Remarkably, human beings have an innate defense again the impending fact of death,” he explains.  “It is not until we experience the most devastating tragedies of out lives that we are forced to remove ourselves from the shroud of ignorance and accept the finality of death as universal.  I would like to challenge the audience to allow themselves an hour to stop denying death.”

Six actors will bring Mesches’ work to life on stage, including himself, William Vaughn, Caroline Wilson, Elizabeth Turner, Cayla Fralick and Katie Cole.  Artistic staff for the production includes Neal Tucker (assistant director), Becky Doran (stage manager) and Curtis Smoak (lighting design).

For more information on Original Works, or any of the productions of the University of SC Lab Theatre or Department of Theatre and Dance, contact Kevin Bush by phone at (803) 777-9353 or by email at bushk@mailbox.sc.edu.