“Fun Home” RECEIVES 12 Tony Award Nods


“Fun Home,” a “graphic” memoir, meaning it was presented in comic-strip style drawings) was declared by the South Carolina legislature to be “indecent and inappropriate” as recommended reading for the class of 2013 incoming freshman, who wished to participate in  “College Reads,” a (non-mandatory) literary discussion program.

Consequently,  after receiving exactly ONE complaint from a parent regarding the subject of  lesbian sex in “Fun Home,”  the legislature ordered the college to return the $58,000 that had been earlier allotted to partially defray the cost of purchasing the book. However, after a barrage of public criticism, the lawmakers, most of whom, as it turned out, hadn’t even read the offending book, ruled that  the college could keep a portion of the money, on the condition that “College Reads,” would teach the U.S. Constitution to the freshmen.

However, since “Fun Home,” described by “Slate” as “the first mainstream play about a young lesbian,” had been adapted into a stage musical being performed Off-Broadway, the college’s School of the Arts, headed by the school’s fearless dean Valerie Morris, raised the funds to bring the entire  cast of “Fun Home” to Charleston for two concert-versions which were staged in a matinee and an evening performance on April 21, 2014 in first-come first served performances in Memminger Auditorium. The producers also agreed to to present to show for a cost-only fee.

Because the controversy was covered by the national press, the word reached New York, where, the producers were able to generate funds for a Broadway production. Before transferring and after receiving an extended run, “Fun Home” won scores of  awards and was named a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for drama.

On April 19, 2015, “Fun Home” opened on Broadway at Circle in the Square theater to rave reviews, and on April 28, when nominees for the American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards were announced by the Broadway League, “Fun Home” received 12 nominations for a 2015 Tony Award, including one for Best Musical. So in trying to stop a creative piece, the SC legislature actually ended up giving it the widest most glorious exposure. As Aristotle once said about Oedipus,”In order to avoid  his fate, he fulfilled it.”



“Fun Home” RECEIVES 12 Tony Award Nods

Charleston Concert Association joins Gaillard Corp.

At an elegant reception held at the Mills House Hotel Mar. 26, it was announced that the board of directors of the Charleston Concert Association (CCA) and the Gaillard Management Corp. (GMC) have agreed on a collaboration that would serve to streamline administrative and financial efficiencies  and also enhance the program quality of performances avoiding any duplication of presentations.

On April 8, 2015 the staff of the CCA will officially join the staff of the GMC, with Jason Nichols, longtime director and president of the CCA, named as Director of Programming for the Gaillard Center, a $142 million rebuilding  of the original Gaillard Auditorium at 95 Calhoun St., which is slated to open in September. Also, CCA staff member Kevin Flarisee will join the Gaillard’s ticketing operations department.  Though the CCA will no longer independently present performances, the organization’s board of directors will remain intact to oversee its mission to advocate for the classical performing arts.


Charleston Concert Association joins Gaillard Corp.

Who is Dottie Ashley?

 Dottie S. Ashley


 Arts Columnist, theater and dance critic and general features writer for S.C.’s two largest newspapers, The State in Columbia and the Post and Courier in Charleston for a total of 37 years; the the only newspaper writer to win the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award given each year by the S.C. Arts Commission for excellence in supporting and promoting the arts.; also, one of 10 dance critics throughout the U.S., selected by the United States Information Agency in 1990 for a month-long visit to Moscow and Tbilisi, in then-Soviet Georgia, to write about the famous Vaganova method of ballet. Is the only dance writer to twice win a Dance Critic Fellowship from the NEA to spend a month, with 12 other dance writers from the U.S. and Canada, writing about dancers from all over the world who performed at the American Dance Festival at Duke University in the summers of 1985 and 2005. In 1981, she was one of 10 theater critics from all over the world to win a Critics Institute Fellowship to the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center in Waterford, Conn. where she spent a month critiquing new plays, featuring Broadway actors in the casts.

She  currently writes “Ashley on the Arts” which appears in every issue of The Charleston Mercury.


Who is Dottie Ashley?

Mary Martin Gallery Honored

The Mary Martin Gallery  not only has been selected by the American Arts Awards organization as “The Best Gallery in South Carolina” for the third consecutive year, but also is listed by the AAA  as one of the top 25 art galleries in the United States, for the third straight year.

“We are truly thrilled that we have received such prestigious honors,” said gallery owner Mary Martin, while seated one afternoon in her elegant, tastefully appointed 3,000 foot space that  she rents at 103 Broad St., at the corner of Broad and King streets on Gallery Row in downtown Charleston. Martin also praises her staff, business analyst Don Olson and consultant Elaine Hruska. “Definitely ,we credit our artists and patrons as the prime reasons for our winning these awards,” noted Martin, a Clemson, S.C. native, who, although strikingly attractive, exudes a calm unassuming air. A 1965 graduate of Clemson University, she was in one of the first classes that admitted women to attend the formerly all-male institution.

Thom Bierdz, president of the AAA, who announced the winners in the competition, said, “The Mary Martin Gallery possesses a great diversity of artwork that is of museum-like quality, which includes bronze and stone sculptures, original oil creations and acrylic paintings, along with extraordinary examples of watercolors, pastels and other media.”

In an article in “The Highlights of Hollywood News,” Bierdz, an artist, author and actor, who has appeared in television series such as “The Young and Restless,” wrote, “The Mary Martin gallery has an impeccable reputation among both collectors and artists.”

Martin also curates and supervises the curation of art exhibits in hotels in the area such as The Venue on Vendue Range and The Andell on Kiawah Island, also employs Chase Barrett as the curator for hotels and restaurants that exhibit artwork from the Mary Martin Gallery.

According to Bierdz, the galleries that are selected as some of the best in the nation have not only great artists and an excellent staff, but also provide a superior art experience for anyone who visits the gallery, whether in person or online.

“A bonus for us is that we are given an opportunity by AAA to view art from people from all over the world who are emerging onto the world’s stage,” noted Martin.

For the month of April, the gallery will exhibit the artwork of three diverse artists: Goli Mahallati, a native of Persia, who merges realism with abstraction by painting people and animals with no faces, showing her ability to bridge gaps in post-modern art; Randall LaGro who is famous for his fascinating monotypes, and Nelson Grice, an Alabama artist who turns out unique animal sculptures.

For further information, go to http://www.marymartin ART.com or call 723-0303. The gallery is open seven days a week.

Dottie Ashley at dottieashley@gmail.com.





Mary Martin Gallery Honored

Spoleto’s ups, downs, close shaves

The 2015 Spoleto Festival USA beat out the New York Times’ Arts and Leisure section by announcing in December that the ultra- imaginative, dance-culture -changing Trisha Brown Dance Company would perform in Charleston  May 29, 30, 31. However, it was not until Feb. 27 that the Times announced that the Trisha Brown Dance Company had organized five seminal pieces to perform May 1, 2  in New York City’s Soho district honoring the late sculptor Donald Judd, whose paintings were often used as backdrops for Brown’s dances, and in this way, was deeply  connected to the dance world for many years. Thus, a foundation was established in his name to be utilized to raise funds for the preservation of the choreography set by Brown, now 78. Those who remember Brown, in the 1970s, daring to dance with her company outdoors in the, then, dangerous neighborhood of SoHo, recall that, after executing over-the top, radicall choreography on rooftops, the dancers, using ropes and harnesses, would then literally walk perpendicularly from the top to the bottom of a building.

Spoleto’s Managing Director Nigel Redden’s impeccable, forward-thinking, will shine once more with the appearance here of the Trisha Brown Dance Company, which has traveled the world paying homage to its founder, who retired in 2011. Performing four of Brown’s postmodern works, the company will also include one of the most famous,  “Set and Reset,” with sets and costumes designed by the iconic artist Robert Rauschenberg.  And this time, rather than brightening the streets of Soho, the dancers will send their sparkle throughout  the Sottile Theatre at the College of Charleston.

Spoleto’s ups, downs, close shaves