‘College of Charleston School of the Arts Presents Festival, Arts Under the Oaks’

Set of hand drawn architect trees and stage curtains. Vector sketch, architectural illustration with "Arts under the Oaks" text art.The inaugural College of Charleston School of the Arts Festival: Arts under the Oaks will offer an entertaining day of arts experiences for Lowcountry audiences. Featuring performances by the College’s Department of Music alongside the Department of Theatre and Dance, the event will take place on April 10 and 11 from 10:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m. at the College of Charleston Stono Preserve, 5297 Dixie Plantation Rd., Meggett, S.C. A livestream option will be available, as well.

Arts under the Oaks will feature mainstage performances and sideshow pop-up events throughout the day. Mainstage shows will be safely interactive with the audience, including:

Unbeatable: A Musical Theatre Showcase – The pandemic isn’t keeping these “unbeatable” musicians from creating and performing! Directed by theatre faculty member Laura Turner, the show will carry the “unbeatable” theme with three main groups of songs that play on beats or rhythms: “Can’t Stop the Beat,” “We Got the Beat” and “I Got Rhythm.” This performance of classic and contemporary musical theatre songs mixes in audience participation, a little dance, and some stories to lift spirits and remind guests of a time before masks.

Finding Place: A Dance Concert –  Comprised of original dances choreographed by students, this concert investigates self, particularly in times of isolation and constant change. How do we stay grounded and what has become “our place”? When is it safe for our close circle to expand? Where do we go next? Directed by dance professor Kristin Alexander, Finding Place exemplifies resilience of self and others through contemporary dance work.

Le Nozze di Figaro: College of Charleston Opera – This famed opera by Mozart is a wondrous, intricate comedy of disguises, lost tokens of love and mistaken identity. Under the leadership of the College’s Director of Opera Saundra DeAthos-Meers, Orchestra Director Yuriy Bekker, and Associate Professor of Theatre Evan Parry, Le Nozze di Figaro is deftly performed social distance-style by outstanding voice students, with stunning choreography by Gretchen McLaine and Pamela O’Briant, alongside professional and student orchestral musicians. The show has over-the-top dramatic story elements often found in modern-day comedies on the screen: a marriage contract between a man and someone who turns out to be his mother, a master trying to enjoy physical passion with his wife’s maidservant (a lusty boy who dresses as a woman to stay close to the woman he loves), and a pin which clasps a “love letter” that ends up in the wrong hands. Supertitles will help guests follow along the hilarious storyline.

Interspersed on the majestic grounds throughout the day will be sideshow events including skilled fight choreography, sonnet recitations, Three Little Pigs: Children’s Opera based on the music of Mozart, and costumed students entertaining guests. Visitors can also tour the historic grounds of the idyllic Stono Preserve, while learning about the 881-acre property along the Stono River and the Intercoastal Waterway, and explore its history and changing landscape. The property is historically and archaeologically meaningful, and holds tremendous potential for better understanding a diverse range of topics in South Carolina Lowcountry history.

10am – Gates Open
11am to 12:30pm – Unbeatable: A Musical Theatre Showcase
1pm to 2pm  – Finding Place: A Dance Concert 
3pm to 6pm – Le Nozze di Figaro: College of Charleston Opera 

*Sideshows interspersed throughout the day: Sonnet Recitations, Fight Choreography Demos, Three Little Pigs Children’s Opera, and Tours of Stono Preserve

Tickets will be offered for in-person attendance with full and half-day options A livestream video option will be available for the full day.

In-Person general admission: $50 for all-day and $25 for half-day (morning or afternoon options)

In-Person College of Charleston faculty/staff/students: $20 for all-day and $10 for half-day

Tickets will go on sale on March 15. Tickets will not be sold at the gate.

Buy tickets for IN-


Questions: Contact the George Street Box Office at gsbo@cofc.edu or (843) 953-4726.

Mainstage events will be livestreamed and may show glimpses of the sideshow events:

Livestream general admission: $20 for all-day

Livestream CofC faculty/staff/students: $10 all-day

Buy tickets for LIVESTREAM


Capacity at Stono Preserve is limited, and face coverings along with a distance of six feet must be maintained at all times between participants.

To make the day outdoors more comfortable, bring items such as sunscreen, hand wipes, bug spray, chairs or blankets, and clothing for variable spring temperatures. Guests may bring food and water supplies (no alcohol permitted) as there will be no food or beverage concessions available.

Portable restrooms will be on site. Attendees should be aware of the rugged, natural landscape at Stono Preserve as they will be fully immersed in the rustic outdoors (long pants and comfortable, closed-toe shoes are suggested, note the presence of natural wildlife). Navigation for most wheelchairs may be difficult due to the terrain.

During the scenic drive on site, be aware of rough, uneven roads. Admission/parking process at the gate may take a few minutes as guests are safely admitted. At that time, half-day guests will receive wristbands to delineate morning or afternoon attendance. Stono Preserve is located at 5297 Dixie Plantation Road, Meggett, SC, 29449-5896.

In acknowledgment of the history of labor and traditional tribal residency of the land at Stono Preserve, the College of Charleston’s Lowcountry Digital History Initiative has coordinated an online exhibition titled “The Stono Preserve’s Changing Landscape.”


Zombie Army of Denmark Battles Undead Team of Shakespeare’s Action-Heroines in College of Charleston Play

Stage combat, pop music, and witty banter make for a must-see livestream!

The College of Charleston’s Department of Theatre and Dance will stage Living Dead in Denmark by Vietnamese-American playwright, television writer, and screenwriter Qui Nguyen. Known for his innovative use of pop-culture, stage violence, puppetry, and multimedia (as seen is the College’s 2014 production of Nguyen’s She Kills Monsters), the innovative playwright combines some of these elements into this action-adventure/horror sequel to William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The undead have risen to power and are trying to take over the world, led by the zombie lord and true king of Denmark. Fortinbras, assembling a formidable opposition, has resurrected the corpses of some of the greatest women that Shakespeare had to offer: Lady Macbeth, Juliet, and the very angry Ophelia. A clash of the undead titans ensues!

The Living Dead in Denmark livestream will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 12 and Saturday, March 13, 2021. The production contains material recommended for mature audiences. Admission prices are $25 (groups of 3 or more), $15 (adults), $12 (seniors, military and 18 & under), $8 (College of Charleston faculty, staff and students). Tickets can be purchased online at showtix4u.com/events/cofcstages. Captioning will be available for both performances, and cast/crew talkbacks will follow each show, with an American Sign Language interpreter at the March 13 talkback. For more information, email cofcstages@cofc.edu or call (843) 953-6306.

Living Dead in Denmark premiered in 2006 at Vampire Cowboys Theatre (NYC), which was cofounded by Nguyen and is the first professional theatre organization officially sponsored by NY Comic Con. The New York Innovative Theatre Awards honored the play with Best Choreography/Movement and nominated it for Best Production of a Play, Best Original Score, Best Costume Design, and Best Sound Design.

As Producing Artistic Director of Trustus Theatre, guest director Chad Henderson brings his extensive knowledge and experience to the College’s academic and artistic stage. He has assembled a talented design team of College of Charleston theatre students Mary Hope Ballou (set design) and Erin Cooper (costume design), faculty member Jason Lyons (lighting design) and professional sound designer Caleb Garner. Dance major Julia Kabernagel is choreographer and faculty member Evan Parry is fight choreographer. Theatre major Victoria Leatherman is stage manager.

A native of Spartanburg, S.C., Henderson began working at Trustus Theatre in 2007 as Marketing Director. He directed professionally for eight years before being named Trustus Theatre’s third Artistic Director in 2015 and appointed the Producing Artistic Director in 2020. Henderson was honored by the S.C. Theatre Association with the 2019 Founders Award in recognition for his contributions to the state’s theatre community. The Charleston community and visiting theatergoers may have seen Henderson’s direction of PURE Theatre’s Fun Home production that appeared in its 2018 season and during Piccolo Spoleto.

Check out the article  Living Dead in Denmark Pits Zombies Against Lady Macbeth, Ophelia and Juliet in the Charleston City Paper

To view the Playbill, click here.

Charming, World War II Love Story ‘Last Train to Nibroc’ to be Presented as Radio Play by College of Charleston

CHARLESTON, S.C. — On February 12 and 13 at 7:30pm, the Department of Theatre and Dance  will present Last Train to Nibroc, penned in the late 1990s by American playwright Arlene Hutton. This audio-only radio play is produced in partnership between CofC Stages and Center Stage, a student-run theatre group at the College.

Co-directed by adjunct faculty member Paul Rolfes and theatre student Holden Crumpler, Last Train to Nibroc is the first story in the Nibroc Trilogy — following the lives of a young couple in 1940s wartime and into the 1950s, throughout the trilogy. Holden describes the play as “a love story with humble beginnings and plenty of twists and turns.”

In December 1940, strangers May and Raleigh find themselves on the same train as the great American writers Nathanael West and F. Scott Fitzgerald. During the journey, the young travelers from seemingly different backgrounds and experiences, tease and fight with each other, yet realize they may have more in common than they expected. Touching on and connecting the characters’ aspirations, personal failures, and love, Hutton kicks off the Nibroc Trilogy with this funny, touching portrait of two people searching for happiness. 

Theatre students Zoe Sauder and Mason Monti play the roles of May and Raleigh, respectively, in the College’s production. 

“I think the heart of the play is about resilience and courage….that through many of life’s obstacles these two young people continue to find their way back to one another,” remarks Rolfes, a College of Charleston theatre alumnus and core ensemble member of PURE Theatre.

This simply staged romance played to critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Off-Broadway, and also earned glowing reviews from Washington Post, The New York Times, and BackStage, among other notable publications.

The live audio performances of Last Train to Nibroc will take place on Feb. 12-13, 2021 at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free and the show will be presented as an audio-only radio play.

To listen Friday, February 12th at 7:30pm click HERE

After Friday’s show, please join us for a post-show talkback.  Please click here for access.

To listen Saturday, February 13th at 7:30pm click HERE

For a link to the Playbill, please click HERE.

For more information on this and forthcoming spring productions visit theatre.cofc.edu, email cofcstages@gmail.com or call (843) 953-6306.

Devised Theatre by College of Charleston Students to Touch on Social and Cultural Challenges

CHARLESTON, S.C. – The College of Charleston’s Department of Theatre and Dance continues its season theme, THE SHOW MUST GO ON, online as spring semester kicks off this month. In Other Words: A Century’s Reflections, a devised piece of pandemic theatre, is an examination on a collection of themes from pandemics to Civil Rights, and even on the nature of theatre itself. Created by a company of seven students and utilizing text derived from first person accounts, it explores the possibilities for theatre in a Zoom world and for all of us in this time of challenge.

Director and faculty member Todd McNerney shares, “It has been a long and difficult year. COVID-19 has effectively shut down the live entertainment industry. Theatre in particular has been devastatingly impacted. However, like universities around the country our program has sought to find a variety of means to still create, to still inspire, and to still educate our students in the making of theatrical art. This performance and the process used to create it provided our students the opportunity to express some of their thoughts and feelings on their world, through the voices of real people from other challenging periods over the last century. The process led them to discover that even with difference, change, or progress there are far more aspects of our humanity which we share than separates us.”

NEW DATES – This production will now take place February 5th & 6th at 7:30pm each night.  Admission is free, but you must first register for a ticket.  Once you have completed the registration process a link will be sent for you to use.  If you previously registered for the production, you will need to register again for your new date.

Please click HERE to register for tickets.

Students Share Their Perspectives on the Unique Events of 2020 in Monologue Performance

2020 has been a difficult year for many people, and the impact of various issues has been felt especially by college students. The College of Charleston’s Department of Theatre and Dance has invited renowned actor, screenwriter, and film director Michael Smallwood to work with its students on writing and presenting monologues that share their observations and express their emotions on this unique year of challenges.

The entirety of the six-monologue performance, Our World: Student Voices of 2020, is conceptualized by the students as they learn various theatre processes. An alumnus of the department, Smallwood recounts, “Monologues are advantageous because they allow for individual ideas and thematic exploration.”

The students address a variety of topics that have weighed on all of us in 2020. One monologue highlights anxiety related to modern media — deciding which ones to trust. Another monologue focuses on the anxiety that a Black person faces and the staggering disenfranchisement of the Black community in the face of police brutality and murder. Tied to the stress of the pandemic and quarantine, students’ works also cover the pressures of the quarantine on families and the lack of national grieving over the 250,000+ lives lost to the virus. All the monologues carry themes of worry and fear, but also of hope, a return to “normal,” and social change.

Through this event, the audience is exposed to the student perspectives on uncertainty and how the events of 2020 have shaped who they are today — and who they might be tomorrow. The various monologues have different goals and intentions, and when asked about what he hopes the takeaway will be, Smallwood replied, “I hope the audience will see how talented and insightful our students are.”

Our World: Student Voices of 2020 will be streamed on December 4 and 5 at 7:30pm. Audience members are encouraged to ask students questions about their experiences at talkbacks following both performance nights. (The Dec. 4 event will be captioned for hearing-impaired audience members and will have an ASL interpreter at the talkback.) Admission is $8 adults, seniors, military / $5 College of Charleston students, faculty, staff / $18 groups of 3 or more. Show and ticket information is available at showtix4u.com/events/cofcstages, by emailing cofcstages@cofc.edu, or by calling (843) 953-6306.  

Michael Smallwood:

College of Charleston alumnus, Michael Smallwood ‘09 is an actor, writer, director, and teacher. While at the College of Charleston, Smallwood studied theatre, acting, and writing, and he won two playwriting awards from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. He is a core ensemble member of Charleston’s Pure Theatre company. His film credits include the Emmy-winning CBS series The Inspectors, the Netflix original movie Naked, and the upcoming Halloween Kills. Smallwood recently won the best screenplay award at the Big Apple Film Festival in New York City. 

Classic Greek Tragedy ‘Antigone’ Reimagined in Modern, Political Tale

Presented by the College of Charleston’s Department of Theatre and Dance, Sophocles’ classic Greek tragedy “Antigone” will be retold with a modern twist in an adaptation penned by multiple Tony-nominated and Peabody Award-winning playwright, Emily Mann. Director and adjunct faculty member Nakeisha Daniel shares, “Emily Mann brilliantly adapted ‘Antigone’ in a way which brought the play out of ancient Greece and into the 21st century. What I found most interesting in this version was the obvious struggle between political and religious ideals, which manifests between Creon and Antigone, and how those ideals are used to win favor with common citizens.” Daniel hopes that the audience will leave with a curiosity about how the decisions of those we place in power affect our daily lives. 

“Antigone” is a story about conflict at its core. Antigone wants to bury her brother, Polyneices because she claims it is her God given right. Creon swears to uphold the law, which forbids her brother’s burial, and demands that everyone obey it. The questions asked are, who is right and who is wrong? What is God’s law and what is Man’s law? Which law prevails in the end?  

The production concept was inspired by images of destruction and civil unrest as seen around the country during the recent protests. The National Capitol Columns at the National Arboretum inspired the set design because of the monument’s tie to Ancient Greek roots and location in Washington, D.C.

Theatre students comprise the cast and crew, and the show’s designers include students Paige Bergen and Hailee Selby (scenic design), Morgan Clinton and Liz Mahon (costume design), and Jessica Shamble (lighting design). 

DETAILS: Livestream performances are on two days only, Nov. 19 and 20, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. No recording will be available for video-on-demand afterward. Admission is $15 adults / $12 seniors, military, and 18 & under / $8 College of Charleston students, faculty, staff / $25 groups of 3+. Show and ticket information is available at showtix4u.com/events/cofcstages, by emailing cofcstages@cofc.edu, or by calling (843) 953-6306.  

Earlier this year, playwright Emily Mann retired from her position at the helm of the McCarter Theatre Center in N.J., where she had overseen more than 160 productions, including more than 40 world premieres – creating a home for theater legends and amplifying the voices of women and people of color. During her 30-year tenure, the theater won the prestigious Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre, and Mann herself was nominated for multiple Tony Awards as a playwright and director. She is best known as a playwright for her 1995 Broadway show “Having Our Say” and her more recent Off Broadway bioplay “Gloria: A Life,” about Gloria Steinem. Her numerous personal awards include: The Peabody Award, the Hull-Warriner Award from the Dramatists Guild, the Helen Merrill award, awards from the NAACP, eight Obie awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the 2011 Person of the Year Award from the National Theater Conference, as well as the Margo Jones Award, given to a “citizen-of-the-theatre who has demonstrated a lifetime commitment to the encouragement of the living theatre everywhere.” Mann also received an honorary Doctorate of Arts from Princeton University, and recently she was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in recognition of her significant contributions to the field. 

Thursday, November 19, we will stream a captioned show for hearing -impaired audience members.  In addition, there will be an ASL interpreter for the talkback following that performance.

To access the Charleston City Paper about the show click HERE

To view our student blog with lots of exciting behind the scenes details, click HERE.



During this challenging time for the arts community the Department of Theatre and Dance continues its season theme, THE SHOW MUST GO ON, with a final fall production of student monologues “Our World: Student Voices on 2020” and spring productions to be announced. Tentative production details are listed and updated at theatre.cofc.edu.

‘How the Vote Was Won’ to Open Season on Oct 1 and 2

The government has said that women do not need votes as they are all looked after by men…how ridiculous! It’s London, it’s 1918, there’s a dangerous flu spreading, and the country is emerging from a long, difficult war. It’s the perfect time for women to agitate for the vote!

Join the College of Charleston’s Department of Theatre and Dance on October 1 and 2 as it celebrates women’s voting rights in its season opener, “How The Vote Was Won,” a one-act farce by feminists/suffragettes Cicely Hamilton and Christopher St John. The show is a timely reminder of the challenges faced by women in the struggle for equal voting rights and the importance of every vote counting during the 2020 election and every election.

Presented with comedic jabs and sharp wit, the play is an entertaining and family-friendly livestream experience.  The production team has been very clever about incorporating facemasks and social distancing into the performance, as seen in this news story/video about the show.

DETAILS: Livestream performance is on Oct. 1 and 2, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $8 adults, seniors, military / $5 CofC students, faculty, staff and 18 & under / $18 groups of 3+. Show and ticket information is available at showtix4u.com/events/cofcstages, by emailing cofcstages@cofc.edu, or by calling (843) 953-6306.

After parliament states that women don’t need a political voice because they are all looked after by men, the women leave their jobs and homes and instead insist upon support from their nearest male relatives. Hilarity ensues until the overwhelmed males band together to demand votes for women.

A founding member of the Women Writers’ Suffrage League, Hamilton wrote the story as a satirical pamphlet published by the League in 1908. The pamphlet was an enormous success and prompted her to combine forces with St John to turn it into a play. Since its debut on April 13, 1909 at the Royalty Theater in London, it has become one of the most well-known suffrage plays ever written.

“How the Vote Was Won” is directed by department faculty member Susan Kattwinkel. She notes, “This play is a delightful short farce, and we’ve found it to be a great play to experiment with all our new performance demands, like streaming and social distancing and masks. We decided that instead of trying to work around those changes we’d make them a part of the show. We’ve placed the action of the show in London in 1918. That’s the year that some women won the right to vote in Britain, and it’s also the year of the flu pandemic. So, it’s not only the actors who are wearing masks and social distancing, it’s also the characters. That gave us the opportunity to find all sorts of humorous ways to play with props and movement. We think the result is a fun romp and we hope you’ll join us for our experiment.”’

Theatre students comprise the cast and crew, and the show’s designers include students Julia Mimó (scenic design), Mattie Davis (costume design), and Nora Zich (lighting design).

Enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at our production through this student blog.

During this challenging time for the arts community the Department of Theatre and Dance continues its season theme, THE SHOW MUST GO ON, with fall productions: dance concert “dance deconstructed,” Sophocles’ “Antigone” adapted by Emily Mann, and student monologues “Our World: Student Voices on 2020.” Tentative production details are listed and updated at theatre.cofc.edu.