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Tuning Up: SCAC fellow’s new play to debut + Camden gallery’s season opens

Good morning!  "Tuning Up" is a morning post series where The Hub delivers curated, quick-hit arts stories of interest to readers. Sometimes there will be one story, sometimes there will be several. Get in tune now, and have a masterpiece of a day. And now, in no particular order...


SCAC fellowship recipient to debut new play. “Boy About Ten” will debut Aug. 17 and run until Aug. 25 on the Thigpen Main Stage at Columbia’s Trustus Theatre. It is playwright Dr. Jon Tuttle's sixth world premier at Trustus, where he is resident playwright. Tuttle received the SCAC's fellowship for playwriting in 2000. Read more on "Boy About Ten" and Tuttle from the Morning News/SC Now. Bassett Gallery opens new season. "Tuning Up" is happy for a quick check-in just up U.S. 1 in Camden, where grantee the Fine Arts Center is set to open the 2018/2019 Bassett Gallery season on Thursday night. Camden artist Dot Goodwin's exhibition "Life with HeART" is first up. Spartanburg 1 touts ABC Project grants. Spartanburg School District 1 scored the largest percentage of ABC — Arts in Basic Curriculum — grant funding of any district in the state, according to the Herald-Journal. The total amount headed to the district is $67,000 distributed among seven district schools. Thanks for promoting your grant!
[caption id="attachment_34666" align="alignright" width="251"] The world-famous Hub Calls for Art Megaphone.[/caption] ICYMI: Calling all potters! The Macon (Ga.) Arts Alliance would like to share with you Fired Works 2019 Regional Ceramics Exhibition and Sale featuring 60 potters from Georgia and the Southeast to be held April 5-14, 2019 in ... Macon, Georgia. The entry fee and exhibition are free to the exhibitors. Get, ahem, fired up! Hard details here. Let's show them what #SCArtists can do! (The deadline is Dec. 1, so we'll remind you once or twice between now and then.)

Four artists honored with S.C. Arts Commission fellowships

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 25 June 2018 COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina artists in Charleston, Horry, Richland and Spartanburg counties representing four arts disciplines received individual artist fellowships after approval by the S.C. Arts Commission board in Columbia. All individual artists working in prose, poetry, and theatre acting and playwriting were invited to apply for awards for fiscal year 2019. The S.C. Arts Commission board approved $5,000 fellowships based on recommendations made by out-of-state review panelists, who select these fellows after  reviewing anonymous work samples:

  • Rutledge Hammes of Charleston County for prose,
  • Stephen Tulloh of Spartanburg County for poetry,
  • Paul Kaufmann of Richland County for theatre acting,
  • and Kevin Ferguson of Horry County for theatre playwriting.
Fellowships recognize and reward the artistic achievements of South Carolina's exceptional individual artists. They are awarded through a competitive, anonymous process and based solely on artistic excellence. Recognition from fellowship awards often lends artistic prestige and opens doors to other resources and employment opportunities. “Past fellows are quick to share stories about the transformative difference award dollars make and the positive effect on their spirits and their self-perception,” S.C. Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May said. “It can truly be a life-changing experience. South Carolina’s artists are indispensable contributors to quality of life in our communities and make up the core of our creative economy. A fellowship is one of the best ways the people of South Carolina thank them, and our agency is proud to deliver these tokens of gratitude on their behalf.” The panelists who judged each discipline’s nominees work in those disciplines elsewhere. This year’s prose judge was Jamey Hatley of Memphis, Tenn., an author who received a prose fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in 2016. The poetry judge was poet Shane McCrae of New York City, an NEA poetry fellow and writing professor at Columbia University. Nancy Rominger of Montgomery, Ala., director of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, served as the theatre acting judge. The theatre playwriting judge was Betty Peterson, an English professor at Somerset (Ky.) Community College. Four fellowships per year are awarded to artists who work in rotating disciplines. One artist from each of these fields: visual arts, craft, and music performance or composition, will be honored in fiscal year 2020. To be eligible, artists must be at least 18 years old and a legal U.S. resident with permanent residence in the state for two years prior to the application date and throughout the fellowship period. Applications will be accepted later this summer following announcement by the S.C. Arts Commission. For more on discipline rotation, eligibility requirements, and the application process, please visit http://www.southcarolinaarts.com/grants/artists/fellowships.shtml.

About the FY2019 South Carolina Arts Commission Fellowship Recipients

PROSE F. RUTLEDGE HAMMES | Charleston County “What I write, at its very best, is some illegitimate hybrid of South American magical realism and Southern Gothic I like to think of as Southern Fabulism,” Rutledge Hammes says of the sum of his prose. Hammes, who lives in Charleston, is the writer-in-residence and creative writing teacher for the Charleston County School of the Arts. His students, throughout a 10-year tenure, have accounted for more than 3,500 regional and national writing awards. The city’s 2011 “Best Up-and-Coming Writer” is co-author of two published novels. His first solo novel, A Curious Matter of Men with Wings, is to be published under his name this September. He is the winner of six ADDY Awards for copywriting and winner of the Cypress Dome Fiction Awards. His talent extends to poetry, where he was a finalist for both the Montage Poetry Award and the Paul Laurence Dunbar Award for Poetry. POETRY STEPHEN TULLOH | Spartanburg County Stephen Tulloh received his MFA in creative writing from the University of South Carolina. The Spartanburg resident has spent time as a tutor and instructor on the collegiate level, where he develops and implements subject- and student-centered courses which nurture creativity, empowerment, self-actualization. As a writer, though, Tulloh considers himself versatile and meticulous as he creates essays, books, and articles for traditional or digital publication. He blogs and has three credits to his name: two out-of-print collections of essays, activities, and lectures on communication and writing; and 2009’s Symmetry, described as “retrospective, introspective, emotive, and somewhat innovative, the poems and drawings in Symmetry focus on two siblings' relationships – with nature; with one another; with family, friends and foes.” THEATRE: ACTING PAUL KAUFMANN | Richland County Though an actor for most of his life, Paul Kaufmann is a multi-faceted artist: playwright, songwriter, fiction and copy writer, and a visual artist. A resident of Columbia with a bachelor’s in communications from Florida State University, he is a veteran of the city’s theatre scene, serving as a cast member in stage productions at Trustus Theatre and at USC. His resume includes appearances in productions in New York City, Wales and on screen in Third Reel, a Jason Stokes film. He has been the principal at Kaufmann Forensic Actors for 12 years. His company contracts 20 actors from across the U.S. to provide actors to the FBI, ICE and other federal and state agencies for use in scenario-based training, where they portray victims of myriad crimes. THEATRE: PLAYWRIGHTING KEVIN FERGUSON | Horry County He describes himself as a son, friend, actor, counselor, teacher, mentor, playwright, dramaturg, and a literary manager, but “not always in that order,” says Kevin Ferguson of Little River on his website. He is credited with writing six plays: five original, and an adaptation of Dickens’ famed A Christmas Carol. His work was included in a short play anthology in 2015 and he contributed to a nine-vignette collection of works with other playwrights. Ferguson teaches playwriting and dramaturgy at Coastal Carolina University. He earned an MFA in playwriting with a concentration in dramaturgy from Hollins University. He is playwright-in-residence, literary manager, and resident dramaturg at Atlantic Stage in Myrtle Beach. He is also the resident Dramaturg at the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins.

About the South Carolina Arts Commission

The South Carolina Arts Commission is the state agency charged with creating a thriving arts environment that benefits all South Carolinians, regardless of their location or circumstances. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts by providing services, grants, and leadership initiatives in three areas:
  • arts education,
  • community arts development,
  • and artist development.
Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the Arts Commission is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources. For more information, visit SouthCarolinaArts.com or call 803.734.8696.

Literary and theatre artists invited to apply for fellowships

Application deadline is November 1. The South Carolina Arts Commission is accepting applications for the next round of Individual Artist Fellowships. South Carolina artists working in prose, poetry, acting or playwriting are invited to apply for the 2019 awards. Each fellow receives an unrestricted $5,000 award. Fellowships recognize and reward the artistic achievements of South Carolina’s exceptional individual artists. Fellowship awards are made through a highly competitive, anonymous process by out-of-state panelists and are based on artistic excellence only. The awards bring recognition that may open doors to other resources and employment opportunities. Fellowships are awarded in four disciplines each year. Find complete guidelines and application instructions online. The deadline to apply is Nov. 1, 2017. Related: Who won the most recent round of fellowships?

Middle and high school students – enter the VSA Playwright Discovery Competition!

Application deadline is April 13. Middle and high school students are invited to explore the disability experience—in their own lives, the lives of others, or through fictional characters—by writing a script. Writers with and without disabilities are encouraged to submit a one-act script for stage or screen. Entries may be the work of an individual student or a collaboration by up to five students. VSA Playwright CompetitionThe competition has three divisions. One winning script is selected in each of the Primary and Junior Divisions (grades 6-7 and 8-9 respectively). Winners in these divisions will receive $500 for arts programs at their schools, along with an award recognizing the student for excellence in script writing. In the Senior Division (grades 10-12), a select number of applicants will be brought to Washington, D.C. for the VSA Playwright Discovery Weekend Intensive, which will include pre-professional activities such as playwriting workshops, roundtable discussions, and staged readings. A select number of Senior Division winners' scripts will be chosen for a Millennium Stage performance. More information and application instructions are available online. Application deadline is April 13, 2015. Via: VSA

Taking American tragedy to Bulgaria: Unique theater collaboration develops in Charleston

PURE Theatre's Rodney Lee Rogers' play "The Tragedian" will be performed in Bulgaria March 27. Rogers is the South Carolina Arts Commission 2011 Playwriting Fellow. (Photo of Rogers by Rod Pasibe.) From the Charleston Post and Courier Article by Adam Parker

The unlikely drama duo is doing it again, this time in Bulgaria. The first time actor-playwright Rodney Lee Rogers and Bulgarian director Peter Karapetkov presented “The Tragedian” was in 2008 as part of Pure Theatre’s lineup. Rogers wrote the one-man play and starred in it. Karapetkov staged it. The play, about the great Shakespearean actor Edwin Booth, brother of John Wilkes Booth, was performed at Circular Congregational Church where its Shakespeare-laden text, innovative staging and compelling portrayal were much appreciated by audiences. Rogers’ research turned up lots of useful and interesting information about the Booth family, which was America’s premier family of the stage back in the 19th century. Father Junius Brutus Booth was an English actor of repute whose stiffer, declarative style was appropriate for his time. Edwin loosened things up and was esteemed for his naturalistic portrayals, and especially for his Hamlet, a role he performed hundreds of times. Rogers taps into all this, and into the inherent dramatic conflict that was part and parcel of the life of a great actor whose brother happened to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln. So just how exactly did Booth manage to bring together a local playwright and a Bulgarian theater maestro in Charleston? Karapetkov is a man with a history. He got his start as a theater actor in Plovdiv, attending the Bulgarian Theater Academy, then joined a small provincial theater company during the Perestroika years when Soviet communism was cooling down a bit and giving the economy a little elbow room. It was during those years that Karapetkov met set designer Petar Mitlev and actor Stefan Popov, both of whom are collaborating on the new production of “The Tragedian.” In 1989, after the bloody Tblisi Massacre in Georgia, Karapetkov criticized Soviet communism at an underground meeting, and the KGB arrested him. He soon escaped to Vienna, found his way to a refugee camp then came to the U.S., where he reinvented himself. He enrolled at Carnegie Mellon, got a second MFA degree and became an itinerant theater professor. His American wife, Hollynd Karapetkova, settled into academia but decided she wanted to become a doctor, so the couple, with their child K.J., moved to the Charleston area in 2005, encouraged by Holly’s parents, who lived on Seabrook Island. Once settled into their West Ashley home, Karapetkov naturally started exploring the theater scene in town. “I called Pure,” he said. “It was the only theater making sense from where I’m coming from.” It was innovative, serious, small-scale and eager to take risks. He was invited to direct a couple of productions, including “The Tragedian.” Holly, meanwhile, changed her mind about medical school and returned to academia. She is currently chairwoman of the English Department at Marymount University in Arlington, Va. The couple spends summers in Bulgaria exploring mythology and theatrical traditions with students. Holly, who is on sabbatical leave from Marymount, is translating “The Tragedian” into Bulgarian (along with another play to be produced in Australia). Rogers’ play will be mounted by the Plovdiv Drama Theatre on March 27. It will star Popov as Edwin Booth. Rogers will travel to Bulgaria to see the play, which could become part of Plovdiv’s repertoire. He and his collaborators hope to present both the Bulgarian and English versions in Charleston during the 2016 Piccolo Spoleto Festival, Rogers said. For the Bulgarian production, Mitlev said he’s designing a modular set that can be easily transformed into a cart, pieces of furniture and more. The cultural exchange is likely to be well received in Bulgaria, where theater is taken seriously. It receives state support and attracts a large segment of the population. One in seven go to the theater regularly, Karapetkov said. Rogers said “The Tragedian,” with its plethora of Shakespeare and themes of endurance and change, identity, conflict and second chances, leaves plenty of room for interpretation. “It’s so rich, directors can decide what theme or approach (to take),” he said. It’s also a play that’s very much about plays and acting and how the theater can provide a refuge from external cataclysm, Rogers said. The character, Edwin Booth, keeps reviving his version of “Hamlet,” even as his own life changes in dramatic ways because of the Civil War. “Life becomes so unbearable, the actor starts hiding in the theater,” in that realm of imagination, emotion and character-building, Karapetkov said. This unlikely collaboration between the American playwright and the Bulgarian theater director almost certainly will continue, generating projects in both countries and providing audiences with much food for thought. “It’s good for us as a company,” Rogers said. “I hope there is a lot more to come.”

South Carolina native wins national theater honor

From The State Story by Bertam Rantin

Sarah Hammond and Adam GwonSarah Hammond won her first playwriting prizes in South Carolina years ago during The Palmetto Dramatic Association’s one-act writing contest for students. Turns out she was just getting started. The Ridge View High School and University of South Carolina graduate’s artistic works have since graced the stages of area productions and recently earned her national recognition. Hammond has been named a winner of the 2015 Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater. The award nurtures talented composers and playwrights and enables their musicals to be produced in New York City. The selection was announced earlier this month by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Hammond, now based in Brooklyn, was recognized for the musical “String,” on which she collaborated with musical composer Adam Gwon (pictured above). Hammond wrote the book and Gwon provided the music and lyrics. “We’re incredibly honored to win the Richard Rodgers Award,” Hammond said by email this week. “Adam and I have been working on the show for seven years. We’ve put a lot of time and a ton of soul into this musical, and we’ve been lucky to have really great supporters along the way.” “String” is a modern-day twist on the story of the three Greek Fates: Atropos, Lachesis and Clotho. In the story, the workaholic goddess, Atropos, gets tangled up with a security guard in the basement of the tallest building in the world. One mistake leads to another ‑ including a lost pair of scissors, a kiss and a stolen string – and soon Atropos breaks her own rules to offer immortality to an ordinary man. The show has been presented at the O’Neill Music Theatre Festival and the inaugural Oscar Hammerstein Festival at the Bucks County Playhouse in Pennsylvania. It won a New Dramatists’ Loewe Award and the Weston Play House New Musical Award. “Some of my Broadway writing heroes were on the judging panel (for the Rogers award), and it’s really humbling to know they thought our show was worth the honor,” Hammond said. Hammond’s writing honors also include the Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Heidemann Award and the New Dramatists” Lippman Award. Locally, her work has been showcased at Trustus Theatre and she was on the production teams of several shows at USC’s Drayton Hall and Longstreet Theatre. “My first couple of plays were all produced in South Carolina, with costumes and sets and memorization and everything,” Hammond said. “It’s really rare for a young playwright to get to see their work fully produced like that, and it taught me 10 times more than any playwriting class ever could.”
Photo by Ric Kallaher (via Broadway World)

Writers, poets, playwrights: enter the Porter Fleming Literary Competition!

Writers age 18 and over residing in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina are eligible to apply for the Porter Fleming Literary Competition. Entries must be postmarked no later than Feb. 2, 2015. Entries must be original, previously unpublished in print or online media and not accepted by any publisher at the time they are entered. Manuscripts previously submitted to the Porter Fleming Literary Competition may not be resubmitted. Submit as many entries in as many categories as you wish. Competition categories:

  • Fiction – short stories only (2,500 words maximum)
  • Nonfiction – article or essay (2,500 words maximum)
  • Poetry – (up to three poems per entry, not to exceed five pages total per entry)
  • One-Act Play – (professional format required, limited to 15 pages)
Awards (cash awards in each category):
  • First Place – $1,000
  • Second Place – $500
  • Third Place – $250
View the complete guidelines and application online. Organized by the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, Georgia, the Porter Fleming Literary Competition is in its 22nd year of recognizing outstanding writing and writers. The competition honors the memory of Porter Fleming, one of Augusta’s leading citizens and foremost philanthropists. Via: Morris Museum of Art

Congratulations to the new S.C. Arts Commission Fellows!

The South Carolina Arts Commission Board has awarded FY2015 Individual Artist Fellowships to four South Carolina artists in the categories of prose, poetry, theatre: acting and theatre: playwriting. Each artist receives $5,000.

This year's fellows (picture left to right, above):

“It is rewarding to honor the work of successful artists, who are central to the creative industries in our state. Their accomplishments inspire other creative individuals and entrepreneurs, and they serve as positive examples of our state’s culture and thriving arts community,” said S.C. Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May. The S.C. Arts Commission board approves fellowships based on recommendations made by out-of-state review panelists, who select fellows based solely on a review of anonymous work samples. Serving as judges this year were Pam Duncan, (Prose), author and creative writing instructor at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C.; Ruth Forman (Poetry), a poet and workshop leader currently living in Washington, D.C.; Gaylen Phillips (Acting), an actor and manager of the Arts on Tour program and Grant Services for the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs in Tallahasee; and Brian Golden (Playwriting), a Chicago-based playwright, director, curator and arts leader. Individual artists working in visual arts, craft, music composition or music performance may apply for the FY2016 fellowship awards. The deadline to apply is Nov. 1, 2014. For more information about S.C. Arts Commission programs and services, visit www.SouthCarolinaArts.com or call (803) 734-8696.

VSA Playwright Discovery Competition open to middle and high school students

Middle and high school students are invited to explore the disability experience—in their own lives, the lives of others, or through fictional characters—by writing a script. Writers with and without disabilities are encouraged to submit a one-act script for stage or screen. Entries may be the work of an individual student or a collaboration by up to five students. The VSA Playwright Discovery Competition has three divisions. One winning script is selected in each of the Primary and Junior Divisions (grades 6-7 and 8-9 respectively). Winners in these divisions will receive $500 for arts programs at their schools, along with an award recognizing the student for excellence in script writing. In the Senior Division (grades 10-12), a select number of applicants will be brought to Washington, D.C. for the VSA Playwright Discovery Weekend Intensive, which will include pre-professional activities such as playwriting workshops, roundtable discussions, and staged readings. A select number of Senior Division winners' scripts will be chosen for a Millennium Stage performance as part of the Kennedy Center's Page-to-Stage festival. Application deadline is April 28, 2014. To learn more about the competition or to apply, visit the Kennedy Center's website. A free resource guide is also available. Image: Winners of the 2013 VSA Playwright Discovery Competition participate in a theater workshop. Via: The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

PURE Theatre’s Lab focuses on playwrights

From Charleston City Paper:

On a recent night at PURE Theatre, several of PURE's core members gathered to read the first draft of a play called Romeo and Naomi Ramirez, written by playwright and Savannah College of Art and Design professor Kathryn Walat. This wasn't in preparation for an upcoming production — none of the actors had rehearsed, and there was no guarantee any of them would interact with the play again once the reading was over. The evening's focus was on the playwright, who would be hearing her characters' voices for the first time.Walat is one of the latest participants in PURE Lab, a play development program that's the quiet, cerebral sister to the theater company's more public face. The Lab has been a part of PURE since the company's founding 11 years ago, says co-founder Sharon Graci, when it was formed as a typical playwriting workshop, with several playwrights getting together to share their writing and critique each other's work. At that time, Lab participants were expected to produce something that would be staged at PURE — for example, Graci's husband and PURE co-founder Rodney Lee Rogers wrote Waffle Haus Christmas, which the company performed in 2011, as part of the Lab. The program's format has since changed. "It's had a lot of permutations through 11 seasons, and this one seems to be the best fit for us," Graci says. "It's grown into something that doesn't have production associated with it. [The process] can be what it's going to be." The Lab is designed to offer playwrights whatever they need in order to move their work forward, whether that's a first or second draft reading by PURE's seasoned actors, or conversations with directors like Graci to help conceptualize staging possibilities. Generally, the Lab spends 18-24 months helping develop a play, although certain works progress much faster. Sometimes, PURE commissions plays that also go through the Lab process; in those cases, playwrights often have a deadline, as the play is destined for one of the company's regular seasons. The Lab has ended up being a kind of complement for the theater company. "The company is very actor-centric, and the Lab is very playwright-centric," Graci says. That's especially true with established playwrights like former Lab participant Arlene Hutton (the playwright behind Last Train to Nibroc and As It Is in Heaven, both of which have been staged locally by the College of Charleston) and Walat, whose award-winning plays have premiered Off-Broadway and at celebrated theaters around the country. She met Graci when she moved to Savannah from New York four years ago. "I was looking for play companies interested in doing new, challenging work and developing new work," Walat says. That search led her to PURE, and she became a frequent audience member despite the two-hour drive to Charleston. Eventually, she and Graci began discussing her work, which led to the recent reading of Walat's play, Romeo and Naomi Ramirez, that Graci organized under the auspices of the Lab. "It's a loose reimagining of the Romeo and Juliet story, set in a Florida high school," says Walat. "The play is in its beginning stages, and this was the first opportunity to hear it outside my head and computer. That's so valuable for a writer." As is the policy for all Lab readings, the actors went in cold. Though it seems counterintuitive, a cold reading is much more useful than a rehearsed one for a playwright, allowing her to experience her work more objectively. "A lot of times a not-right actor in a role can do damage — the words will sound less than they are. And it works the other way too. A great actor in a not-great role can make it sound better than it is," Graci says. "So a cold reading is extraordinarily helpful." That goes for the actors as well, who have to find the voices of their characters on the fly. Romeo and Naomi Ramirez may make an appearance as a fully staged production on the PURE stage at some point, or it may not. Walat could even decide that she wants to workshop something else with the Lab, and that would be OK too. "For someone like Arlene Hutton or Kathryn, their careers are complex. Production's not always the best thing for that script," Graci says. "With Kathryn, what I would say is the Lab is more of a relationship with her, not with the work." And Walat is ecstatic about that. "It's been such an amazing experience," she says. "To be able to say, 'I really feel like I need to hear [my play]' and [Graci] to say, 'Great, we'd love to do a reading,' — that's allowed me to jump back into the writing. It's been so meaningful to relocate and find an artistic company like this."
Via: Charleston City Paper