[image-5][image-7]It was par for the course at the opening ceremony for Spoleto Festival USA 2018: hot as hell, the who’s who of the city in attendance furiously flapping their paper fans, and a confetti blast that caught us off guard again.

We had some laughs, thank god, to keep us from melting into the pavement. The charismatic and eloquent Borders British playwright Henry Naylor thanked “Chucktown” for having him again (he brought the incredible Angel to the festival last year), saying:

“I’m delighted to be here for this wonderful festival, a true celebration for humanity. Britain, of course, has claimed one of your best actresses, Meghan Markle, and for the next 17 days, Britain will reciprocate by sending a few dozen of our best theater makers in return. So please fawn over us regally, roll out the red carpet, and curtsey every time you see one of us.”

Naylor got more serious, though, with an important message about the arts, and the way we interact with creative mediums, and each other, every day.

“The festival is 42 years old, it’s seen a lot of changes, not least, the change in us. The way society is changing at the moment, it needs arts festivals more than ever. Because everywhere we travel, the world is becoming angrier and angrier. We appear to be losing the ability to discuss and debate, and if anyone challenges us, we take it as a personal affront. We’re cherry picking our friends who echo our views, closing our ears, blocking, de-friending those who do not … assert, with no possibility of discussion. Society is becoming fragmented, it’s in danger of falling apart and it’s serious. We don’t need to make America or Britain great again — we need to make America and Britain hear again. To listen to each other’s perspectives with a soft ear. And this is where the arts come in. For the next 17 days, we will all hear perspectives from all over the world. We will hear soul speaks. True art will challenge us, provoke us. We may not agree with everything each says, but it may help us understand each other better. True art may save us all.” 

After the playwright’s wise words — and a crack about the city’s culinary scene, which in addition to the acceptable oysters and grits includes the inexplicable ice cream sandwiches stuffed with pie filling — Mayor Tecklenburg closed out the ceremony with a reminder that “it’s important that we harness this energy and excellence and keep it throughout the year … it’s critical that our young artists have the support and encouragement to follow their dreams to embrace the artist within.”

The confetti burst out of nowhere (from cannons?!) and the amazingly talented acrobats from Gravity and other Myths took the stage for less than two minutes, making our hearts stop approximately 150 times.

Saluti to the 42nd Spoleto Festival, y’all, and be sure to keep up to date with all of our Spolo coverage here.

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