This weekend I had the privilege to attend the SCTA (South Carolina Theatre Association) Convention, which was hosted at the School of the Arts in North Charleston. In addition to the numerous classes and performances offered, this year SCTA brought in famous Playwright/Screenwriter/Director, John Patrick Shanley, as their Keynote Guest Artist. College of Charleston’s School of the Arts sponsored his appearance and in return CofC students received free passes to the weekend convention on a first come-first serve basis.
John Patrick Shanley’s Q&A discussion was one of the most intriguing conversations I’ve been apart of. He was very encouraging towards emerging artists and talked about how he went from writing short plays to writing and directing Doubt, which was nominated for more than 40 awards. Not sure why anyone would pass up a free opportunity like this one. With many members and sponsors, multiple workshops and performances were available to attendees. This was one of the most welcoming and successful conventions I have attended.
College of Charleston’s student organization Center Stage kicked off their season with one of Arthur Miller’s plays, “A View from the Bridge.” Located in the Simons Center on the second floor is Center Stage’s black box theatre. Not too many know that productions go beyond the Emmett Robinson – and great ones too!
I am friends with almost the entire cast of that production and I was honestly impressed with how well some of actors handled the script. Billy Nugent and Elizabeth Watson strongly grasped their characters, even with such a huge age difference. Though the acting was great, the set did not live up to my expectations. It felt unfinished and disconnected to the story.
I personally know the costume designer and I was informed about the challenge her and the lightning designer faced. Their ideas were clashing which made it difficult for their designs to compliment one another. She mentioned that they both had to adjust their color scheme and meet in the middle in order for them to both fulfill their ideas.
Without a doubt, I would recommend this event to others. Mainly because I am a huge advocate of student designers, directors, actors and producers. To see students joining together to collaborate on a production and to sacrifice ideas for the show as a whole is what being apart of the artistic community is all about.
A few weeks ago, my director planned for our cast of 12 women to attend a community sing at Central Baptist Church featuring Dr. Ysaye M. Barnwell. I come from a Catholic family, but I wouldn’t consider myself a very religious person and I had never heard of a community sing before. As I was walking into the church I did not know what to expect. Was it going to be an intimate concert with just Barnwell performing, a worship service with a guest appearance, or a sing along? It turned out to be a group sing involving all attendees. I had chills the entire time listening to voices of all sizes, colors and background coming together to form one voice.
We learned about the different spiritual chants and folks that are the root of African American music and how their culture and music evolved over time. It correlates a lot with how the arts began within the Church. Layering harmonies one after the other created more than just a choir of singers but a performance of artists. All of the songs that we learned were directed towards God and brought members of the Church and community significantly closer to one another through the art of music. I would most definitely recommend this event to others, especially those interested in music, singing and the African American culture.