Aphra Behn: Wanton. Wit. Woman - PREVIEW by Hallie Hayes

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Hale’s Debut Play Aphra Behn: Wanton. Wit. Woman. Showcases the Life of Writer, Aphra Behn, and Her Role on Women


Aphra Behn: Wanton. Wit. Woman. is a 75-minute production by playwright Mariah Anzaldo Hale that pays homage to the little-known legend, Aphra Behn. Behn was a playwright, poet, novelist and spy for King Charles II during the Anglo-Dutch war. This play examines the captivating life that Behn led through dialog, movement, and music.  She was the first woman to make a living as a professional writer in Restoration London during this time-period, trailing a path for women through her scandalous and exhilarating life.  


Through the creation of this debut play, Hale combines her love for women’s history and theatre. Hale is a writer, historian and costume designer who has obtained a career in costume design for both theater and film, where her designs can be found on and off Broadway and in VOGUE magazine. Hale decided to do extensive research on Aphra Behn after receiving a journal from her daughter with Behn’s photo on it, resulting in Hale’s desire to create her own project as a costume designer.  Not only was her play created to tell the story of a trailblazer’s vivacity but also to educate the audience on the roles of women, both past and present.


Specifically, Hale’s goal with this series was to provide a “femme-adventure play which not only takes us on [Behn’s] many exploits but also examines women’s roles then and now,” she continues to explain the play’s significance, “and challenges how she’s been written out of history by ‘learned’ men [who’ve] taken credit for her philosophies, ideas and innovations.”


In order to bring this goal to life, Hale collaborated with UofSC Theater and Dance as well as Full Circle Productions. When director Robert Richmond heard of Hale’s Aphra Behn series, he invited Hale to expand her work into a play using the grant Full Circle won for the Incubator Program at Harbison Theater.


Executive Director of Harbison Theater, Kristin Cobb shares that “the Incubator Program has been in place at Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College for over 5 years now.  The idea behind the initiative is to give local artists a professional venue to launch new work, with the potential to eventually tour,”


Cobb continues to explain the Incubator Program in regard to Aphra Behn: “This has been a wonderful collaborative effort with Robert Richmond and the UofSC Theatre Department as well.  It is part of our mission here at Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College to support local artists, and to showcase their work on our wonderful stage.”


Other Full Circle member, Linsday Rae Taylor, was brought on to direct the play. Taylor is a third-year MFA candidate at the University of South Carolina who has directed productions such as UofSC’s The Wolves, Sense and Sensibility and Trustus Theatre’s Hir, among others.


For Taylor, this play was special to her from the moment she read the script: “If you open a theatre history book and look up Aphra Behn, who was essentially the first female playwright, you will only find two or three sentences about her.  We know very little about her, as she was kept hidden while the men of her time are documented and celebrated.  This is an opportunity to learn about an extraordinary woman who lived an extraordinary life.  We hope that, if you come see the play, it may prompt you to find out more about her.”


While directing the play, Taylor points out that one of her biggest challenges related to the development of this production is fitting an entire existence with so many details into a tightly focused narrative, where discovering a main focus is important to fit into their chosen time-span of 75 minutes.


“Developing a play takes a lot of time.  Most plays take years to realize before going into performance, so this process feels truncated in that regard,” Taylor explains overcoming the challenges, “Aphra Behn lived such an interesting life, so it has been challenging trying to edit and discover how to focus the story.”


Of course, there is no play without actors, and this one is cast with undergrad and MFA acting students. Third-year MFA student Leslie Valdez is playing the role of Behn, and others include Susan Swavely, Reilly Lucas, Sean Ardo, Luliia Khamidullina, William Hollerung and Full Circles Production member, Katrina Blanding.


While getting all these elements together was challenging, it was worth it for Hale and Taylor. One of the most important parts of this play for the women is that it is particularly relevant to today’s culture. As Hale states, “[Behn] was a fascinating woman 100 years ahead of her time, and we should all know who she was and what she’s done for us”


For Taylor, it is their “aim for audiences to witness ‘flashes’ of events in Aphra Behn’s life and understand her in a new way.  She was fighting the same battles that women are fighting today,” she continues to passionately describe the importance of the show, “we hope that it will ignite a feminist fire in both women and men, and that it will inspire us all to uncover more women’s stories that have been shrouded by history.”


In the end, with a ‘Me Too’ and ‘Time’s Up’ theme, Aphra Behn: Wanton. Wit. Woman is essential to our culture.  It is important to the voices that today’s feminism have created for each of us individually.


“I want us to leave the theater with more questions than answers,” Hale states on the end desire of her Aphra Behn series, “It’s funny.  It’s sexy.  It means something.”


Aphra Behn: Wanton. Wit. Woman. premiered on April 13th at Harbison Theater.

Following the premiere, you can then view the play at Uof SC’s Center for Performance Experiment every night at 8:00 p.m. from the 21st – 28th of April. Tickets are only $10 and are available at www.theatre.sc.edu.


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Artist, Christopher Lane's Exhibition Resist Division Opens December 7 at Frame of Mind

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“Collectively, what I’m trying to say is we throw away 2/3 of what we produce because we’re in such a hurry to produce it,” local artist Christopher Lane passionately speaks on his upcoming art exhibition, “I would like to take 1/3 and give it to the people … there shouldn’t be any reason why anybody is hungry in this country.  There should be no reason why some kids not getting an education.”


50-year-old, full-time artist, Christopher Lane, relinquishes a collection of work that reflects on the individual and delivers a message that contains the true form of who we are as a whole, as a community: we are one.  Lane’s exhibition, “Resist Division,” opening Friday December 7, 2018 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Frame of Mind and lasting through January 28, 2019, expresses the desire to accept one another as one in the same and to reach a point of complete equality rather than the cruel reality that we often face: division.


“I don’t know if it’s because my family is so diverse.  I don’t know if it’s because I’ve made every mistake and I need a break sometimes.  You know, you can throw Winston Churchill in there, ‘divided we fall,’” the artist describes his ideas behind this collection of work, “So, I think it’s just, we’re better together.  We’re all the same, basically.”


Lane is aware that we are separated by aspects such as beliefs, race, and geography; however, through his collection, “Resist Division,” he takes notice that we are separated by our unique individuality but we should not be divided.  We all have the same basic rights and we all have needs and desires.  The things that separate us should not also divide us.


“ … I went back through Arlington, you know, I went through all the monuments and if you look at all the tombstones it’s like, men and women in there.  And it’s every religion, people that don’t believe in religion, gay people, straight people, whatever,” the artist softly laughs as he describes the monuments he saw coming back from a DC trip, “It’s like, they’re all on there and to me, you know, you’re an American.”


Lane studied art at New Mexico University and minored in photography.  He began painting as a child, where he found the trade therapeutic.


“I have dyslexia … so, I guess I would paint to kind of escape,” Lane speaks on painting at a young age.


Though he began painting at a young age, this collection shows the passion and desire he has developed to create a world where we decide not to let our physical appearances or personal mentalities separate us.  Where we accept the truth, and come together as one.


 The artist often paints dreams that he has had, but he gets much of his inspiration from simply watching the news and seeing what’s going on globally.  Though he doesn’t always understand it, he studies it and learns from it, until he can create artwork to represent his discovery.  Here is what Lane passionately describes when asked about the process of creating this collection:


“… watching this,” Lane eagerly points to the news running on the TV screen, “… everything’s the same basically… I watch this and it’s like the run off and I’ll see something and I don’t understand it, and I’ll dig into it.  Normally, my first opinion on something when I first see it and I’m really passionate- I’m completely wrong, you know?  And then, if I look at it for a while, then start maybe taking it aside, I realize, ‘well, I understand where they’re coming from and, well, this is what I think,’ and then we talk and then that person goes, ‘well, I didn’t know that was that.’  And when I try to paint, it’s all of that.’  He continues to eagerly express his ideas, “And I don’t know if I’m smart enough to do it …  I don’t know if I can change anybody but I can at least speak and send a message, and maybe it will make the other person think.”


As the veteran and current artist describes one of his paintings found in his “Resist Division” exhibition, you can see the fire within him to really send a message and to bring the division that has become our society to one:


“That one was like a year ago and they were kind of questioning what a real American is,” Lane points at a painting hanging on his studio wall, “ ... but I was just like, well, what is that?  You know, it’s like, I’m Norwegian.  I’m all Norwegian except for Iroquois Indian, and that’s what that painting is.  You know, am I good enough for you?  Do I qualify?  And it just really made me mad.”



Lane’s work isn’t just a lovely painting for you to admire.  It is a striking collection of paintings that send a passionate message that not only needs to be heard, but understood.  That is Lanes desire with this exhibition: to share his thoughts through his craft, to share the one truth and to bring a divided world together.


“Resist Division,” is an exhibition that all should come together for.  It is a collection that will make you think, make you question and make you reflect.  Reflect not only on the division of our society, but on the constant rush that we seem to live in.  How did things end up this way?  How can we resist division? 


 As best said by Christopher Lane, ask yourself this: “What led us here?”







Karl Larsen's Untethered, Opening Friday at Frame of Mind, Challenges Preconceptions and Invites Discourse

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 “I was looking at the art and I realized that I was Untethered,” Columbia-based artist, Karl L. Larsen, describes the title of his upcoming exhibition, “… it’s a free for all in there.  Untethered means to literally separate myself mentally and physically from the things that I think are plaguing society.”


Local artist, Karl L. Larsen, dives into his inner being and views the world through a fresh perspective in his upcoming show, Untethered, opening October 5th at Frame of Mind, with a reception from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.  With topics that are meant to be mind-boggling and controversial, this show will offer not only originality, but opportunity for discussion on topics that deserving of discourse.


The 33-year-old Columbia native will be showcasing art that posits a question that is faced in everyday society but is often avoided: Why do we believe what do believe?  A question that revolves around this broad idea of thinking for oneself.


Larsen shows his art through new eyes, by creating in a manner that involves him “taking off the lenses,” and showcasing pieces that dwell in his own thoughts, leaving breadcrumbs behind for the viewer to pick up, and make what they will from; hopefully exploring their own views.


“Over the last year or so, I’ve been going through a transition, and I like to use the, you know, ‘taking off the lenses’ that I’ve been wearing my entire life … I finally got brave enough to take those off and detach from things, and to step outside of my boundaries,” Larsen explains on the idea behind this intriguing collection, “…  So, a lot of these are mixed up in some very interesting conspiracies with politics, and amongst other things, but once I took these glasses off, I began looking at everything with fresh eyes … it gave me inspiration but it allowed me to create in this undisciplined, just go at it; no rules.”


With art that explores a multitude of different media and style, the artist hopes that his work will create dialog through the vision that he has created from his own ideas; a vision that isn’t corrupted by the media.  With only two pieces that come from a personal side of Larsen’s life, each opposing piece contains different content that is embodied with a rabbit hole of possibilities for each individual to explore, asking questions such as, why do you look at the world the way that you do?  


“I do kind of want to have those discussions with people who want to talk about this kind of stuff and they are curious,” the artist says, “and when you take those glasses off a beautiful world emerges.”


Larsen has been creating art for 5 years now, however, his show Untethered isn’t about creating beauty from his external view - it is about creating work from an internal perspective.


The artist debates the idea that society is consumed with what we are getting from the media and believing everything we are told without taking in our own perspectives, which is what one needs: to be challenged and to have their mind stimulated.


“It’s really about thinking for yourself, and even though this stuff is strange and it may be a little offensive to people, I think they need it,” Larsen continues his exploration into the creation of his work, “Artist have to tell the truth, because nobody else is telling the truth.”


Through this collection, Larsen is not only providing a new perspective on the strange things in the world around us, but he is opening opportunities to learn more about the things that are really processing in the viewer’s own mind.  “So, the fun thing about it is that, not only can you gain a new perspective on things, you learn more about yourself,” Larsen explains.


The artist Karl Larsen

The artist Karl Larsen

Along with this thought driven collection, Larsen will also display fashion that he designed via individuals at the event and his popular painted couch, which has circulated Columbia, at opening night.


One should come into this show with an open-mind, expecting the unexpected and be willing to dive into their own ideology through the ideas of another.  Larsen has no intention of this show portraying what his previous show offered, but instead is providing a whole new chapter of work.


“I want to always test myself … and as long as I stay like that, every time that I show is going to be wildly different then the last,” Larsen describes on what to expect, “And I think that’s what artist have to do in order to challenge themselves.”


Untethered will be displayed for two months, closing on November 30th.  To view more of Larsen’s work, you can purchase tickets to an event that he will be featured at, Collectively Supported Art, on November 9th (tickets available at the opening reception of Untethered) or find him painting at the West Columbia Fall Back Fest on November 2nd.


Columbia is lucky to have an artist who breaks boundaries and challenges not only himself, but his audience; one who explores controversies through a new, clear perspective.


“… that’s what art should do. Art should bring people together. It should be challenging people,” says Larsen, “Artist have to tell the truth about themselves because if they don’t - or what they’re trying to portray - then what are they doing?”


-Hallie Hayes

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CityBallet presents Beauty and the Beast

Columbia City Ballet invites you to be their guest as they grace the Koger Center stage with its production of Beauty & The Beast, for two spellbinding performances only.

This production features choreography from Executive Director, William Starrett and music composed by Léon Fyodorovich Minkus and will be held on Saturday, March 18 at 3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the Koger Center for the Arts.

A love story perfect for ages 9-90, Beauty & The Beast is a captivating fairytale as old as time that blends magic with artistry. The dancers of Columbia City Ballet couple beautiful lines and riveting stage presence to tell a classic tale where love conquers all.

Over 80 local children from the midlands area are incorporated throughout the performance. This musical and romantic fantasy creates a love story, where a frightening beast and a beautiful woman fall for each other despite their differences.

First performed in the Spring of 1991 as a Koger Center box office sell out, Columbia City Ballet brings a newly updated and revived Beauty and the Beast to the stage just in time for the classic Disney film to hit theatres.

Costume Designer, Alexis Doktor has crafted a one of a kind Belle gown to debut in the performance. The production will also feature enchanting medieval sets including the mysterious castle nestled in old France. Columbia City Ballet invites you be their guest for an evening of magic and excitement for this captivating performance of Beauty & The Beast at the Koger Center for the Arts. For more information and tickets, visit www.kogercenterforthearts.com or call the box offices at 803-251-2222. Military and student discounts available at the box office or Koger Center kiosk.

Preview: Indie Grits 2015, Day 4

IG-Logo It's Saturday at Indie Grits!

That means the Love, Peace, & Hip-Hop festival is already in full swing on the 1700 block of Main Street. The event boasts a bevy of genuine headliners like Nice & Smooth, Monie Love, and Big Gipp (of The Goodie Mob) but is worth attending largely because of it's family-friendly celebration of the vibrancy and importance of hip-hop culture. Various vendors and non-profits will be dotting the sidewalks as DJs, B-Boy dance crews, and hip-hop visual artists gather together in the spirit of DJ Afrika Bambaataa's "4 pillars of hip-hop."

Jasper is particularly stoked for Big Gipp though--Goodie Mob is one of the key outfits in the Atlanta hip-hop scene of the 1990s, and is still one of the most influential outfits in defining "The Dirty South" sound for a genre too-often thought of in terms of East Coast (NYC) vs. West Coast (LA).


There's also a full day of screenings to take advantage of! The full schedule is at available at the Indie Grits website here, but it's worth noting how many blocks of shorts are available today--the Embarrassing Love block at 2pm, People Portraits at 2:30, Four Minute Film Frenzy at 4pm, Heritage in Drift at 4:30pm, Burdens of the Past at 8:30pm, and Summoning the Supernatural at 9pm. These blocks are a great chance to experience the full range of filmmaking possibilities and thrive off their juxtaposition to one another, something which is commonplace (and great) a film festival but that we don't often experience otherwise.

We attended Burdens of the Past yesterday and can personally recommend that block. It's mostly a collection of portraits of people you would likely scorn--a murderer, child molester, and campus preacher--but each vignette is lovingly rendered and looks to find the depth of humanity in its subject matter. It also showcases the range of motivations and possibilities inherent in making shorts too.

Vidia Propa

Features tonight include Western at 6pm, a nonfiction take on the genre that still simmers prominently in our national imagination, and Vida Propia, which sounds like a heartbreaking observational documentary of first-generation Mexican immigrants struggling to survive in North Carolina. The latter screens at 6:30pm.

Also going on tonight in the second performance of this year's Spork in Hand Puppet Slam! It's hard to say what exactly will happen at this anything-goes, adults-only collection of puppetry pieces, but Prairie Willows will be performing and puppeteers from around the Southeast will be showcasing the incredible creative abundance of their art form. That starts at 7pm.


Then there's the closing party at 10pm, where you can get down with all the filmmakers to the tunes of Mechanical River and Infinitikiss. We would say that's a wrap on Indie Grits, but there's more stuff in store for tomorrow, when festival winners will screen throughout the day...


Preview: Indie Grits 2015, Day 2

IG-Logo There’s really so much going on at Indie Grits each day that picking and choosing what to do comes down, more than ever, to time, taste, and happenstance. But here’s a few picks anyway.

We’ve already highlighted director Amanda Berg’s Every Body Hit Somebody, which screens at 7:30 tonight, here, but it’s worth noting that she also has another film in the festival, Welcome Home, Fayetteville Observer, a short about daily military life on Fort Bragg, that screens ahead of Old South, a fascinating documentary by Danielle Beverly that looks at the interactions between a predominantly (and historically) black neighborhood in Athens with a newly-arrived white fraternity house that just happens to fly the Confederate flag and hold an annual antebellum parade. Jasper got to see an early cut of this film last year and found it to be a fascinating exploration of naiveté and oh-so-tentative understanding between unlikely neighbors. Old South and Welcome Home screen in the 5:30 block today.


We’d also be remised if we didn’t point out that today is the grand opening of all of the Future Perfect visual art installations that mark the first time Indie Grits has ventured so wholeheartedly into that arena. Over 20 artists are showing in various spaces throughout the 1500 and 1600 blocks of Main Street as they tackle questions about past, present, and possible futures for a 21st century South. Various tours are launching from the Nick at 6:00, 6:45, and 7:30, on which you’ll have the opportunity to ask the artists questions. We’re the tour guides on the 6:45 one, so you should probably cross the other two off your to-do list. We’ll have Oreos. Seriously.

In another bout of shameless self promotion, my podcast with Lee Snelgrove, Art, Pop, & Fizz, had a great conversation with Maureen Conner of the Institute for Wishful Thinking, which will have an installation in the One Columbia office at 1219 Taylor. Check that podcast out here.

A sample of Hollis Hammond's work, who will be showing in the Free Times gallery.

Last but not least, we’d like to strongly endorse checking out the Fork & Spoon and Friends show at Music Farm tonight. Fork & Spoon is celebrating five years in business, and they’ve consistently put out some of our favorite local records while also managing to be supremely talented and awesome individuals.

Below are a few of the bands playing tonight. See ya out there gritting it up.