HARVIN COLUMN: When the arts take on a wrestling match, watch out
When Pure Theatre creates a full-size wrestling ring in the middle of its space, you know the play is going to be something different.
And then Sharon Graci, artistic director of the company, goes and casts a guy who does improv and owns barbershops for the lead. Even she wasn’t sure she was doing the right thing until she saw Christian Duboise onstage in the lead of Kristoffer Diaz’s “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity.”
Duboise just looks the part of a superstar wrestler, and, yes, those tattoos are his own, along with not a small amount of attitude. He hasn’t acted on-stage since college, so this is a huge role for him.
The play itself is not one to be discounted. It was the 2010 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, winner of the 2011 Lucille Lortel Award for Best Play, and winner of the 2011 Obie Award for Best New American Play.
It’s smart and funny, about “wrestling, geopolitics and raisin bread,” according to Graci.
Mace (Michael Smallwood) is a professional wrestler, although not the champion — that’s the impossibly charismatic Chad Deity (Duboise). When Mace discovers a young Indian-American Brooklyn kid (Eric Doucette) whose charisma rivals that of the champ, Mace decides to get him a job in the company. Only problem is, the boss has a specific plan for the duo: put them on screen as terrorists.
You get the idea. It’s part of Pure Theatre’s push to provide plays in many genres, and they do it well when the sass is mixed with smarts.
“Chad Deity” runs through Oct. 6. All evening shows are at 7:30 p.m., and the Sept. 23 matinee is at 2 p.m. Pure Theatre has a new subscriber promotion: buy one subscription, get the second half off. For more information, go to www.puretheatre.org or call 723-4444. The theater is at 477 King St.
Speaking of comedy, the second installment of the 2013 Charleston Comedy Festival starts at 10 p.m. Friday at Theatre 99 for all those budding stand-up comedians.
There are four preliminary rounds this fall for the Charleston Comedy Festival Stand Up Competition, and the one that starts Friday is the second one. Each preliminary round will feature 14 comedians performing five minutes each.
The audience will vote for the top four, who will move on to the next round. Only the finals will have judges.
It’s a chance to win $1,000 while you gain valuable audience cred for your material. If you bomb early, you have a shot at another round. The finals will be in January.
If you want a brush with fame, then you need to get your tickets to the Society 1858 party at the Gibbes Museum of Art. As part of its new “Sound and Vision” exhibition of rock-’n’-roll photography, the curators have invited Donovan as a guest. For those of us of a certain age, he was the impossibly handsome folksinger with a single name, before Cher became a household name. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year, and he’s coming to talk about the intersection of pop music and great photography.
The party is at the Gibbes 8-10 p.m. Friday, and nonmember tickets are $65.
On a more serious note, the latest production by Footlight Players is “A Question of Color,” a play about a white man and a black woman defying the law against interracial marriage in the early part of the 20th century in North Carolina.
The play follows Susan and John as they struggle to make full lives under the shadow cast by color and prejudice. The story mirrors the current and historical American obsession with color and demonstrates W.E.B. Dubois’ comment that the great problem of the 20th century would be the color line.
Performances of “A Question of Color” are 8 p.m. Sept. 21-22, 27-29 and Oct. 4-6, as well as 3 p.m. Sept. 30 and Oct. 7. Performances are at the Footlight Players Theatre, 20 Queen St. Tickets are $25 for adults, $22 for seniors and $15 for students and can be purchased online at www.footlightplayers.net or by calling 722-4487.
Outdoor picnic party
For those of you who follow the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, there will be an end of the summer performance in Hampton Park at 5:30 p.m. Friday.
Music from Bach, Mozart and Gershwin will be featured along with Emmy Award-winning composer Anthony DiLorenzo.
DiLorenzo’s music is performed throughout the world by symphony orchestras and chamber groups, including the San Francisco Symphony, New World Symphony, Louisiana Philharmonic, Utah Symphony, Tokyo Symphony and Boston Pops Orchestra.
It’s a wonderful way to hear the symphony’s top brass and percussion in a picnic atmosphere.
Bring your own chairs or blankets. Some of Charleston’s popular food trucks will be on hand. It’s a free nonalcoholic event, but you must RSVP by calling Sarah-Kate Magee at 723-7528, ext. 111, by 5 p.m. Monday.
If gospel is more your style, then you can’t miss The CSO Gospel Choir’s opener for the 2012-13 concert season with Director Isaiah McGee.
This will be a benefit performance for the Centers for Heirs’ Property Preservation at 6 p.m. Saturday at Calvary Baptist Church, 620 Rutledge Ave.
Through song and narration, “The Myth: 40 Acres and a Mule” is a story chronicling African-American land preservation among emancipated blacks who continued to toil and survive as sharecroppers on land where they were once enslaved.
This is the first performance with McGee heading the choir, so it will be a great look at the sounds to come.
For tickets, go to www.csogospel.com or call 866-811-4111. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.
Reach Stephanie Harvin at 937-5557 or firstname.lastname@example.org.