Search Results for: Bill Thompson

THE LANGUAGE OF THEATRICAL DESIGN

IF ACTORS ARE ALL ABOUT ENTRANCES AND PLAYWRIGHTS ABOUT EXITS, designers in the theater are about complementary frameworks, physical and emotional. From elaborate to humble, with sets and props it’s everything with a purpose and everything in its place—the unsung narratives of the theater. After all, it’s not just the writer and actor who tell the story. A designer’s job is to define spaces and populate them with meticulously selected objects that help convey not only a mood but the story itself. Scenery is more than a backdrop. Stage design helps shape the contours of a piece and define how the audience reacts to it. ...

STORIES, LIKE PLANES ON A RUNWAY

MARY ALICE MONROE penned her first story, Willy the Wishful Whale, when she was 8 years old. Not surprisingly, it was about an animal, and it was a foretaste of what was to come. A childhood passion for nature and its most vulnerable inhabitants has never waned. Today, the Isle of Palms resident awaits the release of her 25th novel, The Summer of Lost and Found, to be published by Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, on May 11. Monroe, acclaimed for her Lowcountry-set, environmentally conscious novels, returns to the saga of the Rutledge family, whose progress readers have followed over the past 18 years. It’s ...

VISIONS OF LIGHT: ITALIAN STYLE

GIOVANNA DE LUCA has achieved something art house cinemas have struggled to do in recent years: complement loyal older patrons with young filmgoers. As founding director of the annual Nuovo Cinema Italiano Film Festival, Dr. De Luca, an associate professor of Italian at the College of Charleston, has poured heart, soul and showmanship into making it an event for all ages. The 14th-annual festival, slated for November 12–15 at the Queen Street Playhouse, is still a “go” at press time, pending pandemic developments. A “virtual” fest is not in the offing. Unlike, say, the 1970s, when college-age filmgoers flocked to art ho...

QUIETING CHAOS WITH THE POETRY SOCIETY

[caption id="attachment_23766" align="alignnone" width="566"] Amid the current uncertainties, and on the occasion of its 100th anniversary, the Poetry Society of South Carolina (PSSC) is as vital a literary instrument as ever.[/caption] THE MAGIC ACT OF ART IS ITS capacity to achieve stillness in the midst of chaos. An appreciation of poetry likewise can calm the frenzy, or at least quiet it a little. Which is why, amid the current uncertainties, and on the occasion of its 100th anniversary, the Poetry Society of South Carolina (PSSC) is as vital a literary instrument as we have. The oldest state poetry society in the ...

AREA ARTS GROUPS STRIVING TO FILL THE GAPS

[caption id="attachment_23760" align="alignnone" width="590"] Nothing focuses awareness and artistic discipline like a crisis.[/caption] IF ANXIETY IS THE ESSENTIAL CONDITION of intellectual and artistic creation, we’ve had plenty of motivation. Nothing focuses awareness and artistic discipline like a crisis. And isolation, for all its impediments, can be a boon to creativity. At least that was the hope as we entered, and are beginning to emerge from, a time of strict social distancing. And as Charleston-area arts groups begin to surface, however tentatively, from our collective restrictions, it seems the hope was we...

THE CONNOISSEUR AS SHEPHERD: NIGEL REDDEN AND SPOLETO

NIGEL REDDEN’S FIRST acquaintance with the Spoleto Festival was as a 19-year-old student volunteer in Italy in 1969, seven years before Charleston’s Spoleto Festival USA would realize founder Gian Carlo Menotti’s dream of a Festival of Two Worlds. Redden, born in Cyprus to an American diplomat father and an Australian mother, worked with Italy’s Spoleto Festival for five years, that first year in a capacity he describes as “the lowest of the low.” But even then he had an inkling of what the future might hold. Today, the annual 17-day late-spring event in Charleston showcases both established and emerging international...

CHARLESTON AS A LIVING MUSEUM

IF BOOKS ARE HUMANITY IN PRINT, museums are humanity on display. Here reside beauty, curiosity, ingenuity, education, inspiration, hard realities, comforting truths, entertainment, a sense of wonder and community. Museums, together with travel, are where we go to expand our view of the world and to see ourselves with heightened clarity. As an avid traveler, I’ve had the privilege to explore many of the world’s great museums. I’ve also had the privilege to live in one, Charleston itself. Not to imply things musty, decayed or mired in the past. Not anymore. This open-air museum lives. Vibrantly. Charleston is pretty sprig...

CONSTANT REINVENTION, CONSISTENT EXCELLENCE

[caption id="attachment_22741" align="alignnone" width="590"] [/caption] THOUGH HE IS CERTAINLY not a French lyric poet, Carroll Brown embodies all the qualities of a classic troubadour, and then some. He is a traveling musician of rare gifts, whose compositions are as diverse in genre as they are soulful. One of the most enduring of South Carolina-based performers, Brown is equally at home with folk, Irish, country, honky-tonk and rock. He is a longtime fixture in the Charleston area, where, apart from performing works from his numerous albums, he also started a recording studio. Charleston Recording would become the largest st...

ADVENTURE AND DARING IN CONTEMPORARY ART

[caption id="attachment_22741" align="alignnone" width="590"] [/caption] ART, LIKE LIFE, THRIVES WHERE there is a sense of adventure, of extending one’s gaze beyond immediate perceptions. In the 25 years since Mark Sloan took the helm as director of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston, the old maxim has been embraced wholeheartedly. The Halsey is both an enterprising teaching institution and a global showcase of some of the most arresting work in modern art. Sloan, ably abetted by associate director Lizz Biswell and their staff, continues to cast a wide net, with the rather surprising resul...

ACTORS’ THEATRE AND THE ART OF COLLABORATION

[caption id="attachment_22220" align="alignnone" width="590"] PHOTO BY ROBBIN KNIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY[/caption]  

STAGE ACTORS ARE SCULPTORS who carve in snow. And while it is true that nothing in the theater is imperishable, save great writing, Chris Weatherhead and Clarence Felder are working on a measure of immortality.

As actors, writers, producers and directors, the couple worked steadily for more than 30 years in professional theater and motion pictures in London, New York, Hollywood and Canada before returning to Felder’s native South Carolina in 1995...

WHY ARTISTS DO WHAT THEY DO

[caption id="attachment_22230" align="alignnone" width="590"] L-R: Robb Helmkamp, Erik Wolken[/caption]  

ONCE WE CREATED CRAFTS out of necessity. The impulse was strictly utilitarian. But humans being humans, it was not long before the desire to decorate even the most prosaic objects became irresistible.

The evolution of the fine arts took a similar if somewhat different path, but the motivation has been the same: to create, to express and, if possible, to make a living at it.

Beyond the obvious, what attracts...

THE ODYSSEY OF A SACRED SONG

  Herb Frazier was captivated by a centuries-old funeral song and its ancestral echo. He had gone to Africa in the spring of 1994 to report on efforts to collect hospital supplies for Rwanda, a drive in which the Medical University of South Carolina was involved. Writing for the Charleston Post and Courier, he covered the local medical community as well as an agonizing recovery from the Rwandan genocide. A year later he ventured to Sierra Leone on a grant from the National Association of Black Journalists, which provided funds to members to go to an African country to report on issues other than famine and war—...

CAN’T GO ON? YES, YOU CAN.

  Rapid breathing and a racing pulse. Trembling hands and sweaty palms. Quaking knees and a halting voice. Butterflies bordering on nausea. Did Laurence Olivier ever have to deal with this? Does Cate Blanchett? Well, yes. It’s called stage fright, aka performance anxiety, and it’s an ancient malady. It’s not just a curse that besets actors and other live performers. Many of us would rather chew glass than give a speech. The fact that stage fright is commonplace and almost universal is small comfort when you’re trying to remember the lines of a play, the lyrics to a song or the carefully crafted comments that just...

CARRYING ON THE GULLAH TRADITION

Spirited and diverse, the South Carolina Sea Islands’ musical masala of West African rhythms, gospel, children’s rhymes and dance tunes come together with a contemporary spin in the band Ranky Tanky, named after the Gullah phrase meaning “work it” or “get funky”! Ranky Tanky is Charlton Singleton (trumpet), Quentin Baxter (percussion), Clay Ross (guitar), Kevin Hamilton (upright bass) and Quiana Parler (vocals). The first four assembled straight out of college in 1998 to form The Gradual Lean, playing a series of impromptu gigs before pursuing other avenues. They came together again in 2016 with a distinctively f...

THE KINGS OF QUEEN STREET

Of all the arts, theater is the most democratic. Advanced education is not a prerequisite, nor even literacy. And, as a rule, emotion carries more weight that intellect. Not to say that having a certain sophistication won’t enable a patron to appreciate literary allusions, historical references, in-jokes and subtle jabs of wit. The Footlight Players, Charleston’s oldest theater company, are not out to dazzle with mental gymnastics or live on the edge, but there will always be challenging fare, like Death of a Salesman, among the farces, mysteries, romances and melodramas. Their new executive director, Brian Porter, will see to t...

THE LANGUAGE OF TEXTILES

In the Malay language, the word “ibu” refers to a woman deserving of respect—a mother, an aunt, a teacher or, for that matter, any woman devoted to sustaining her family and community. As the name adopted for an international movement founded by Susan Hull Walker, ibu could not be more appropriate, for it also suggests the value that should be placed on the work of female artisans. From its showroom on King Street to online sales and trunk shows, ibu offers exquisite textile wares and other handmade items whose sales help support women in 38 countries. Walker, an accomplished fabric artist, is celebrating four successful y...

WHIMSY, NOSTALGIA AND SYMBOLISM

Were he in Paris, David Boatwright would be thought a bon vivant, a boulevardier known for his ready smile, his menagerie of hats and a breezy manner. Here, the Tennessee-born, Upstate-bred artist is all of that and a fixture of Charleston culture, renowned for his unconventional paintings, massive murals and a taste for the whimsical and nostalgic. He is also a musician and filmmaker of note. A master of the large scale—his 2,000-square-foot mural for Grow Food Carolina being the biggest—Boatwright is no less at home with paintings that are as striking and provocative as they are symbolic. Boatwright was an architectural...

INDIE GRANTS HELPS FILMMAKERS

It may not sound like much in an era of $200 million mainstream movie budgets, but the generous five-figure production funding awarded to independent filmmakers by the Indie Grants program can make all the difference in the world. Offering production grants ranging from $20,000 to $35,000 for narrative short film projects, Indie Grants is a joint project of Trident Technical College and the South Carolina Film Commission that adds another practical, hands-on layer to the former’s longtime film studies and production efforts. South Carolina filmmakers, experienced or novice, may apply. Smaller supporting grants of $1,500 to $...

PRESERVING AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY

Some find their passion in life early on, but few can claim to have discovered it at so tender an age as Christina Butler. The Ohio transplant, who teaches architectural history and historic preservation at the American College of Building Arts (ACBA) in Charleston, knew she wanted to work with historic buildings by age three, captivated by a TV program on restoration she watched with her parents. Today, she is immersed in a project that owns as much cultural history as architectural, directing her students in the initial stages...

AN EXTENDED MUSICAL FAMILY

These days, everyone from a football coach to your stockbroker insists their operation is a “family” affair. But for some, like Mary and Dr. Robert Taylor, the claim is not a cliché. “We are really passionate about what we do,” says Rob Taylor, founding director of the Taylor Music Group (TMG), a nonprofit performance and educational association. “And we are family. We have really tried to cultivate that feeling in our organization. My whole life I’ve wanted to reproduce what my parents had in my home growing up, people being close and making music together.” Rob, the son of a choir director, and Mary...