‘Vagal Tone’ exhibit taps into Eastern, Western philosophies

Hirona Matsuda and Lisa Shimko have again teamed up for a joint show, this one titled “Vagal Tone.”

Although their works are extremely different, artists Lisa Shimko and Hirona Matsuda have had several shows together over the years. Their newest collaboration, “Vagal Tone,” will begin with an opening reception Friday at the Michael Mitchell Gallery on Upper King Street.

If you scratched your head at the word “vagal,” you’re not alone.

“Vagal tone is the activity of the vagus nerve, the longest of the cranial nerves, which regulates the activities of our vocal cord, ears, facial muscles and heart rate. Vagal tone is known to be linked to our emotional state, how we communicate with others, and how we respond to stresses,” explains Chelsea Steadman of the Michael Mitchell Gallery.

In this show, the artists are creating works that are representative of the Western model of “body as machine” and the Eastern philosophy of “body as garden.”

“This dichotomy is represented in Shimko’s focus on organic subject matter and Matsuda’s use of remnants of the industrial world. Both bodies of work focus on the idea of things connected and linked together: elements affecting each other in order to function, not unlike the wandering vagus nerve,” Steadman said.

The opening reception will take place 6-9 p.m. Friday at 438 King St. Call 564-0034 or go to www.michaelmitchellcharleston.com.

Act I: It’s 1959. A white neighborhood in Chicago. A black family is moving in among them. Act II: It’s 2009. A white family moves back into the same neighborhood. However, gentrification has set in and the roles have been reversed. Things become tense and ghosts from the past begin to show up.

“Bruce Norris’s acerbically brilliant and fiercely provocative satire explores the fault lines beneath race and real estate over the course of 50 years. The play (‘Clybourne Park’) has won nearly every honor the theater world has to give, including the Olivier Award, the Evening Standard Award, the Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize,” explains Carly Ridgeway of Pure Theatre.

Directed by Pure co-founder Rodney Lee Rogers, this production of “Clybourne Park” features many of the company’s core members.

The cast includes Artistic Director Sharon Graci, Associate Artistic Director David Mandel and Pure Core Ensemble members R.W. Smith, Michael Smallwood, Erin Wilson and Brannen Daugherty.

“It’s a real thrill to work with so many of our core ensemble members at the same time, on the same piece of theatre. It’s a group that’s large on personality and large on talent, and that makes it all the more fun and challenging. To say the least, it’s never dull,” Rogers said.

“Clybourne Park” will be performed through May 29. All shows are at 7:30 p.m. with the exception of the May 12 matinee performance at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for student rush tickets. Advance ticket purchases are strongly recommended.

Pure Theatre is at 477 King St. Call 723-4444 or go to www.puretheatre.org.

The classic musical and sweet love story of “Oklahoma” is the perfect way to wrap up the Footlight Players’ 81st season.

“ ‘Oklahoma!’ tells the story of two cowboys as they follow their dreams of making their destiny in the Oklahoma territory of 1906. Each of the main characters competes with a corrupt ranch hand and traveling peddler for the women they love,” explains Footlight’s Chrissy Oddi.

“Curly is a cowboy who has trouble admitting his feelings to Laurey, as she does to him. Judd, the hired hand at Laurey’s farm, tries to come between them.

“Ado Annie is torn between Will, a cowboy who has strong feelings for her, and Ali Hakim, a peddler who does not want to marry her. As the romance between Curly and Laurey unfolds, the audience learns of the rivalry between the farmers and the ranchers, and the daily struggles of the pioneers.

“While Curly and Laurey’s romance is at the center of the plot, the heart of the play is about a group of people from different backgrounds coming together to form a new home.”

This musical is Americana at its best. Expect to hear classics such as “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’ ” and “Oklahoma”

“Oklahoma!” will be performed at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and May 16-18, with a 3 p.m. show Sunday and May 19. Tickets are $30 for adults, $25 for seniors/military, $20 for students, $15 for student rush tickets and $15 for children 12 and under.

Footlight Theatre is at 20 Queen St. Call 722-4487 or go to www.FootlightPlayers.net.