One of the great joys of Spoleto is chatting with your fellow Spoletians, if not because they share a common interest — they’re as excited about the fest as you are — but also because you, well, get to make what Tyler Durden would call a single-serving friend, a term that I increasingly believe should be viewed positively and not as a pejorative, as Chuck Palahniuk intended.
Last night, amid the mini-monsoon, I had a chance to talk to a lovely couple from Columbia at Fast and French. Like me, they were using getting a bite to eat and some wine as an excuse to get out of the mini-monsoon — or is it the other way around? Either way it doesn’t matter. They were lovely folks.
Like many, they were repeat Spoleto attendees and had taken in the Bill T. Jones performance. They didn’t really say much about it, but that was probably more of my fault because they asked what I had seen, and I told them Porgy. The conversation quickly turned to that.
They’d tried to get Porgy and Bess tickets, but ticket prices had increased well past their price range once they got around to trying to order their tix; in case you didn’t know, Spoleto employs a common enough venue practice called dynamic pricing whereby ticket prices increase or decrease based on the frequency and number of tickets sold or not sold, which is why the official Spoleto guide in January may indicate that show is $45 but in reality all current tickets are $60.
Oddly enough, we talked little about the festival. Instead, the subject of newspapers were on the agenda. My single-serving male friend asked me if I had heard about the sale of the Free Times in Columbia to the Post and Courier. Although he was a little bit worried about the purchase, he was, by and large, pleased that The State hadn’t bought it and the P&C had.
That said, he absolutely despises the P&C‘s pay wall. Since he was my friend, single-serving or otherwise, I told him he could bypass that bullshit by searching in incognito mode on his browser. (Psst, don’t tell Mitch Pugh I told you. I don’t want them buying out the City Paper and kicking me to the curb.)
Earlier today, I met a nice woman from Aiken who was sitting beside me at the 1 p.m. showing of Ada/Ava. She’s a long-time Spoletian. In fact, it was her mother that made her a regular. My Emmett Robinson Theatre neighbor told me a story about how her elderly mother begged her to go to Spoleto one last time before she passed. Ever the dutiful daughter, my new friend relented. Needless to say, that went on for three more years.
My row-mate also told me about one show many years ago by an Israeli dance troupe. She didn’t say the name, and I didn’t ask. These things are usually unimportant unless you’re talking about a household name — like say Ella Fitzgerald, who the lady saw at Spoleto years ago. During the Israeli dance show, which took place at the Gaillard, the troupe members came down from the stage and pulled members from the audience. My friend balked at first, but ultimately relented. Of course, when the time came for the audience members to be sent back to their seats, the dancers kept my friend on stage, danced around here, and then dropped to the floor, leaving her in the spotlight. Needless to say, she was terrified … and thrilled.
And that, my friends, is what Spoleto is all about.