A typical jail break results in prisoners escaping their cells, but that’s not what happens at the Old City Jail’s biannual Jail Break event. Nope, instead, artists head in to the dark, dank jail, and once inside, they use its walls and halls to exhibit their works and stage performances. The fifth installment of Jail Break on Saturday will feature artists, comedians, musicians, and fashion designers camped out in and around the jail. Outside in the courtyard, the Charleston Dance Alliance will perform, while creatives will show off their wares at the Artisan Market. In true Charleston fashion, food trucks will line the courtyard to satisfy the cravings of the famished frenzy.
Jail Break is presented by Entropy Arts, sister company of Entropy Ensemble, founded by Andrew Walker. Walker focused solely on Entropy Ensemble for years before turning his attention to Charleston’s thriving arts scene. “I knew I wanted to create an arts festival here in Charleston that celebrates our creative community in an interesting way,” he says. “The Old City Jail has got to be one of the most interesting buildings in Charleston … It reeks of history and makes everyone’s imagination run wild the instant you see it.”
Jail Break has come along way since its first installment in 2010. “I remember the very first Jail Break when the music stage outside was made with scrap wood and hay,” Walker says. “Now, we have real stages!”
And they try new things out each time. This year, they’ve got new tricks up their sleeves, including stand up comedy hosted by Evan Berke, a completely redesigned artisan market, live video project mapping, and fashion designers showcasing their work. Additionally, Redux Contemporary Art Center will offer screen-printing demos.
In the music department, Steven Fiore will be releasing his new album Youth and Magic. Other acts include Brave Baby, The Luke Cunningham Band, and The Royal Tinfoil.
As far as the dance component goes, well, it’s huge, thanks to the Charleston Dance Alliance. There will be an outdoor stage dedicated solely to dance crews and performance companies, and the inside of the jail will feature dance installations. Additional dancers and groups will perform in many different styles and genres throughout the festival.
And it wouldn’t be a true-blue arts festival without visual art. The inside of the jail will be transformed into a gallery featuring art from every medium: Paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography, film, and more.
“Truth be told, there aren’t enough opportunities for different types of artists to get together and celebrate what they are doing under the same roof,” Walker says. “We like to think we are building a home for a demographic of the Charleston community that has this intense sense of camaraderie but no space in which to share their passions and collaborate in really exciting ways.”