In my seven years of covering the arts in Charleston, I’ve seen a lot of crazy shit — most of it during Spoleto. The First World War reenacted with mud and celery sticks. Chinese operas with cartoon interludes. Homeless kids singing in a sci-fi musical. This is the one time of year when the city cracks open its respectable veneer and lets its weird side loose.

That sense of try-anything fun is just one reason to get excited about Spoleto. It’s also a chance to see internationally famed acts, catch experimental premieres, and hear innovative music without leaving the comfort of our own peninsula.

As an overview critic for the City Paper, I’ll be looking for the islands of excellence in Spoleto’s vast sea of performing arts. I’ll be finding out who the artists are, what makes them tick, and how it feels to experience their shows. I hope to find plenty of crazy shit along the way.