Arts and Culture 2011

Amy Holtcamp



Spoleto Preview: Theater

Posted 5/2/2011 5:54:00 PM

This year, Spoleto’s eclectic theater lineup offers us a glimpse into several different worlds: a small town in 1930s Ireland; a surreal fairy tale; a neighborhood in Brooklyn filled with drugs, disease and poetry; and a decaying townhouse on Manhattan’s East Side.

First, the Druid Theatre Company presents Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan. McDonagh is, in true Irish style, a master of dark comedy, and here his target is 1930s rural Ireland and an environment so stifling that the inhabitants of Inishmaan have taken to talking to stones or staring at cows as pastimes. That is, until a rumor shakes the town that a Hollywood director is coming to nearby Inishmore to film a movie on location. The Druid Theatre Company has long championed McDonagh’s work, and the reviews of this touring production have promised top-notch performances that find the heart in this black comedy.

The Kneehigh Theatre rocked Spoleto a couple of years ago with its sensuous, electric rock musical Don John. This year, the group is bringing their unique, theatrical vision to Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale The Red Shoes, a story of a young girl who can’t resist her red shoes that make her “dance with delight and spin with possibilities.” But soon the shoes won’t come off and they take on a life of their own. Emma Rice, who directed The Red Shoes, also directed Kneehigh’s production of Brief Encounter, which had a Broadway run this winter. I saw Brief Encounter on a trip to New York and was blown away by the stunning visuals, superb acting and quirky sense of humor in the show, and The Red Shoes seems to offer more of the same. Kneehigh Theatre calls The Red Shoes a “menacing cabaret… with music to make your toes twitch, images to make your mouth water and a story to make your heart pound.”

Lemon Anderson is, in his own words, “a three time felon with a Tony Award.” Born and raised in Brooklyn, he lost both parents and served two prison sentences before he was 21. He went on to win a Tony Award before he turned 30, as well as acting opposite actors like Robert Downey, Jr. and Denzel Washington and acting for, among others, Spike Lee. County of Kings:The Beautiful Struggle, was produced by Spike Lee and the Culture Project (the force behind The Exonerated), and chronicles his journey from prisoner to poet in his unique and lyrical hip-hop infused style.

Finally, Edgar Oliver is a poet, performer, playwright and legend of the downtown arts scene in New York. Born in Savannah, he moved to New York in 1977. Walking down East 10th Street, he passed a townhouse and saw a woman putting out a “Room for Rent” sign; he rented it on the spot. Times have changed since then (his rent in 1977 was $16 per week) but Oliver’s address has not. He has spent the last 30 years living in that decaying townhouse, and he brings the house and its eccentric inhabitants to life in his one-man show, East 10th Street: Self Portrait with Empty House.

For more information about these offerings or to buy tickets visit the Spoleto Festival 2011 website by clicking here.