David Lee Nelson was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer in 2017

Tickets for the City of Charleston’s Spoleto-adjacent arts festival, Piccolo Spoleto, go on sale today, Tues. May 1. The box office is held in the same location as Spoleto’s, at the Gaillard Center downtown. In addition to in-person sales, you can snag tickets online at piccolospoleto.com or by calling (866) 811-4111.

Reading through this year’s Piccolo Spoleto schedule — peep the full thing online — we were stoked to see so many exciting theater productions, literary offerings, and badass visual arts exhibits. While the schedule can be overwhelming — with over 500 events taking place during the 17 day festival — we whittled down some of our top picks for you to peruse. Check ’em out.


PURE Theatre presents Stages, a comedy about cancer from solo performer David Lee Nelson. CP wrote about Nelson and his battle with stage four colon cancer last year, sharing candid excerpts from his blog like, “Apparently I’m part of a trend of people in their 30s getting colon cancer. Which is exciting because I’ve always considered myself to be forward thinking.” Get a taste of that heartbreaking humor starting on May 26 at PURE. Tickets ($26) can be purchased online or at the box office.

NYC’s The Salvage Co. brings its production Together We Are Making a Poem in Honor of Life to Gage Hall this Piccolo season. The play is about a mother and father grieving the loss of their child after a school shooting. Played by a real-life husband and wife team, this show is sadly one that is always timely. Performances start on Sat. May 26. Buy tickets ($21) online.

5th Wall Productions presents one of our favorite plays — as far as titles at least — this year, with Crazy Bitch. As someone who’s been called a 21st century Crazy Bitch, I can empathize with what people likely called women incarcerated in asylums from 1840-1945. The play’s description reads, “At a moment when women’s voices are finally being heard and believed, this piece gives voice to women long hidden in shadow and examines how ‘crazy’ is used to dismiss women even today.” Snag tickets online.


Origin, presented by Annex Dance Company, is created in collaboration with mulitmedia artist and composer John Jannone, exploring movement in its purest form through technology and modern dance. Annex is always creating cool stuff — most recently the company put on A Light in A Window, a show entirely inspired by a piece of art. Tickets to Origin are $16 and can be purchased online.

Notable Events

Pecha Kucha 30 hits the Charleston Music Hall on Wed. May 30 with some killer speakers including Redux executive director Cara Leepson, artist Camela Guevara, Creative Mornings’ host Ivan Lima, and more. DJ’ed by Professor Ping, this night features each speaker talking for 6 minutes and 40 seconds about their artistic, creative, and entrepreneurial disciplines. Tickets ($12/adv., $14/door) can be purchased online.

HEART Radio Lab, presented by the HEART Artist Guild & Theatre Company presents Love Frequency, with the choir performing songs like David Bowie, The Flaming Lips, Leonard Cohen, and more, in conjunction with multimedia art presentations at the Music Hall on Fri. June 8. HEART is an innovative arts and theater company that provides mentorships and community engagement for adults with special needs who want to develop and identify as artists.

Literary Events

Poetry at McLeod is a successful program at McLeod Plantation, one that brings African-American poets to the Gullah heritage site to “illuminate the experience and legacy of enslavement.” On Sun. June 3 Marilyn Nelson, the daughter of a Tuskegee Airman, will present her poetry, which discusses the lives of famous African Americans from George Washington Carver to Emmett Till.

Visual Arts

If our pre-coverage of the City Gallery’s Piccolo exhibit, A Dialogue in Black and White is any indicator, you’re probably well aware that we’re excited about this show, the brainchild of local artist and activist Cookie Washington. Featuring 66 artists paired up to create works based on a theme — be it ‘protest’ or ‘rape culture’ — the exhibit will also highlight community conversations with special dinners. Get your tickets now, while you still can.

Cone10 Studios is alive and kickin’, which is pretty great. The local clay making community and gallery space, located at 1080-B Morrison Drive, has been teetering on the edge of a building sale, but until then they’re still holding events and classes. During Piccolo you can check out an exhibit of curated clay works, with artists utilizing the flow and movement of clay as they interpret the theme of ‘Functional Movement.’ The works will be on display throughout the fest.

In conjunction with the Gibbes’ current exhibition, Vanishing Charleston, Gibbes curator Pam Wall moderates a discussion between artists Julyan Davis and West Fraser, whose work has “captured disappearing cultures, lifestyles, and places in Charleston over the past four decades.” Did somebody say … development? Tickets for this timely talk are $25 and can be purchased online.

Musical Events

What If? Productions’ Piano Bar Series: Sondheim Nights celebrates the music and lyrics of America’s greatest musical theater composer — Stephen Sondheim, of course. The intimate evening of stripped-down musical theater takes place at The Schoolhouse in West Ashley. Tickets are $25/general, or if you really want to do it cabaret style, snag a VIP table for four, $120.

The In-Between with Marcus Amaker, is a collaboration of poetry and jazz (moment of silence for how lovely that is) featuring saxophonist Robert Lewis, pianist Gerald Gregory, and poet laureate of our fair city, Marcus Amaker. The event is free to attend and will be held at West Ashley’s Holy Trinity Windermere on Wed. May 30 at 6 p.m.

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