Monthly Archives: October 2013

Classical Guitar

In hopes of expanding my knowledge of guitar beyond the modern associations with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Strokes, I went to the Classical Guitar Festival presented by the College of Charleston’s Department of Music. On the whole, I thought the performers were really excellent and talented, as far as my untrained ears could tell anyway. However, it was just not as exciting as what I am used to in the way of musical performances. The spectacle, though, was not the point I suppose. The performance was focused more on the skill and mastery of this one instrument that I never knew could be manipulated in so many ways. I found myself appreciating the event much more afterward than I did while sitting in the recital hall; it opened my eyes to a new art form that was a considerable distance outside of my comfort zone.

In order to attract more of the student body to the performances, the Classical Guitar Festival was completely free for students. In my opinion, this is a great operational plan-specifically a marketing plan- not only to attract more audience members but a specific audience demographic that could directly impact the Department of Music here at the college. The more free concerts they advertise, the more broke college students are likely to attend and increase their awareness of the great programs and musicians that the department produces; in the long run, this awareness could turn into potential supporters and patrons of the Department of Music.

And if by the end of this you are as curious as I was, you can watch my personal favorite performer of the evening, Ulyana Machneva, here!

Heaven at the Robinson

I was fortunate enough to see As it is in Heaven on its final night at the Emmett Robinson Theater. A visiting College of Charleston faculty member, Beth Lincks, penned the play in 2001 under the name Arlene Hutton. The play is set in a Shaker community in 1838. The storyline dealt primarily with the struggles of three young girls living in such a strict community. Though their particular form of rebellion isn’t very relatable, sneaking away to see angels, their struggle against elders who don’t understand them is.

Tickets were ten dollars to CofC students and cost more for the general public. The production probably could have cut costs on the costumes, but they were perfect. The actresses wore simple garbs that were very similar, but each character’s was slightly different making them believably homemade. I was pleasantly surprised to find the opening scene pretty funny and satirical. Emily Downey as Sister Betsy continued to supply the much needed comic relief throughout the performance, but Claire Sparks stole the show with her portrayal of Sister Fanny. She delivered her lines poiniantly with palpable emotion. My biggest issue with the show was the staging. I was seated in the stage-side seating. For the majority of the show the actors were seated along the stage on benches instead of going into the wings. So basically, I missed half of the show because my view was blocked. Other than that I thought it was a wonderful production.

Heaven On Sunday

I had the opportunity to attend As It Is In Heaven at the Emmett Robinson Theatre at the College Of Charleston on Sunday, October 6, 2013. The play was written by Arlene Hutton and directed by Beth Lincks, who is a professor at the College. Overall, I thought it was a good play. It was very simple, with only a few characters, simple set design, and only one set of costumes. The main source of income came from the ticket sales, which ran at $15 per ticket, while tickets for students, faculty, staff, and seniors over the age of 60 were only $10. The play was slightly confusing for me, since I had no idea what the play was about. It was easy to follow once the story started.

Everything ran smoothly from a management perspective. The show started right on time, and people found their seats with or without the help of an usher. One thing I found that maybe could have been worked on is the fact that there was no intermission. At 95 minutes, it’s a short production, but we were informed of no intermission approximately thirty seconds before the play started. I felt they should have announced that ahead of time so theatre goers like myself could have planned accordingly. Besides this extremely small detail, I would definitely recommend people to see the show, though unfortunately it had a short run, therefore there are no more opportunities to see it.

To The Theatre!

On October 7, I attended the play As it is in Heaven by Arlene Hutton at the Emmett Robinson Theatre in the Simmons Center on campus. This was the first play I’ve seen since I’ve been in Charleston, and it left quite an impression on me. To be honest, I had only minor interest in seeing a play about an 1838 Shaker community in Pleasant Hill, Kentucky, but about ten minutes in, I was fascinated by the plot and enchanted by the songs. Though the play is not defined as a musical (the program says right on it: A play about The Shakers), there was a lot of singing (and it was absolutely beautiful). I was thoroughly impressed by the quality of acting and singing by the actresses in the production; they blew away my expectations for a College of Charleston production.

From a management perspective, the event had some organizational issues. First, the house was opened about 5 minutes late. Then, the ushers were clearly not properly prepared for their job. People were being seated in the wrong seats and having to be moved when their seat’s true ticket holder arrived. This resulted in the play starting fifteen minutes late. For those of us that show up to these sort of events when the doors open, we had to wait in our seats for forty-five minutes for the play to start. That’s heading towards the ridiculous. Whoever was managing the ushers should have been better prepared. However, regardless of the seating issues, this play was phenomenal, and I would recommend it to anyone, particularly my fellow music lovers!

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Night Out on Campus


My Monday night ritual was interrupted this week as I decided to break trend and attend the  “As it is in Heaven” at the Emmett Robinson Theatre. This show opened on October 3rd and the final performance is tonight, October 8th, at 7:30.

I honestly did not know what to expect from this show, as it was my first time to attend a play on campus. The plot was not particularly captivating to me, but the quality of the acting held my attention. It would have been nice to have some sort of introduction to the play since the lights went down as I took my seat (due to the mass disorganization outside the theatre). The vocals and characters produced by the cast were fluid and pleasing.  The musical aspects of the play were what I enjoyed the most.

This class has taught me to use a critical eye for all elements of art events I attend.  The show started nearly 20 minutes late as a result of the disorganized lines out side of the theatre and box office. I am very impatient and ended up having to wait in line twice. So, maybe this line riding outside of the theatre was only a problem for me. Either way, there is definitely room for improvement in the process of ticket exchange and theatre admissions.

Complaints about frustrating lines aside, this was an enjoyable event. If you have further interests in the College of Charleston Theatre and Dance Department, check them out on Facebook for information regarding upcoming events and performances. Students, faculty and staff get tickets for $10. You can buy them in advance online, but do not try to enter the theatre before you exchange your pre-purchased ticket at the box office (located directly outside the theatre) with your cougar ID.

Improv in Downtown

On Wednesday night I decided to visit Theatre 99 on Meeting St. for their 8pm Laugh for a Lincoln show.  Last night, the popular improv theatre featured three separate groups each presenting about 45 minute long shows in their own way. Each group started with some sort of inspiration for their skits that would then be performed afterward, connecting back to the inspiration they received from the audience at the beginning.  Two of the groups simply asked for a word or phrase from the audience, and one group brought an actual audience member up on stage, asked her questions about her life, and then performed a series of mini scenes based off of her answers.  A couple of the groups were a little slow to get people laughing because they were speaking quietly and for those of us in the back, we had a hard time hearing their jokes.  I was excited to discover that in the second act, the group Full Love Throttle brought out a special guest, Frank Caeti,  visiting from Los Angeles.  It definitely kept the show exciting and he was hilarious and clearly experienced in the realm of improv.

I was pleased to find that almost every single seat in the house was filled by the beginning of the show despite their lack of intense advertising.  The show cost only five dollars, explained by the title, Laugh for a Lincoln, however they only accepted cash.  I tried to go to the show once before, but I was unaware of the cash-only policy, and their ATM located in the lobby was out of service so I decided to go back another day.  The nearest ATM is about a ten minute walk away and for some that might mean missing the beginning of the show, or deciding against going completely.  Understandably, credit card machines and fees can be costly but I would suggest at least advertising on their website the cash-only policy.  I would suggest that others should visit Theatre 99 because they have smooth transitions and are professional in the sense that they know what they’re doing and how to get their target audience.

The Second City

On Saturday night, my parents and I went to see The Second City at the Sottile theatre as part of family weekend here at the college. The Second City is an ensemble of improv comedians who tour the country.  Many of their alumni have gone onto stardom-Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Will Ferrel, etc.  The show consisted of many short comedy skits, including audience participation and music.  This particular show was performed by six actors (three guys, three girls).  The production was very well thought out; the transitions between the sketches, the audience participation, and the acting, overall, was very impressive.

This show is a highly demanded production and it was cool to see in Charleston.  It was obvious that everyone had played their part in putting on this show.  Though the microphones occasionally messed up, the rest of the production was flawless.  It was definitely a good idea, on the part of the theatre, to allow the college to include tickets as the cost of family weekend.  This way, there was a guarantee of a large audience to meet the cost of this show.  I would definitely recommend this show to anyone who wants to laugh a ton.  It was neat to watch actors who are definitely on their way to big things in the acting world.

Studio Space Reimagined

Walking into the gallery space for the opening of Herb Parker’s Studio Practice & Joseph Burwell’s School of the Viking Spaniard Revisited at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art on August 23, 2013, one becomes instantly immersed in the artists’ creative world. Immediately Parker’s portion of the show grabbed my attention. Walking through his portion of the exhibit feels like walking through some sort of nightmarish antique shop run by the Dr. Frankenstein of collectables in the best way possible. His pieces are simultaneously whimsical and creepy. The wall of shelves full of odds and ends was so strange and intriguing that even after studying it at the opening for a solid twenty minutes, I have since gone back twice to get a better look and always manage to find a piece I did not notice previously.

After walking through Parker’s twisted wonderland, I was underwhelmed by Joseph Burwell’s showThe School of the Viking Spaniard Revisited. Burwell’s gallery space was much more organized, yet it was harder to understand his creative process from his mock studio space. It felt like a cross between an architecture firm and a construction site. This set up sort of makes sense because his drawings are highly architectural. The drawings are precise to the point that it is almost unbelievable that they are created by hand and they are reminiscent of Piranesi’s Imaginary Prisons. 

Every opening I have attended at the Halsey has been a good experience and this one was no exception. There are always plenty of staff members around to answer questions and they seem genuinely enthusiastic about the artists’ work. Herb Parker’s portion of the exhibit became a little overcrowded at times, which is a really bad thing for a clumsy person near a bunch of free standing sculptures. There was a really enlightening video playing in the video room, but a lot of the patrons did not know it was there and missed out. Overall, the show is very well organized and accomplished the goal of making the viewer feel like they are in the artists’ studio. This is a unique approach to a gallery show and I would be interested to see more similar exhibitions.