The International Festival of Arts & Ideas, a New Haven institution now 19 years old, has just announced its 2014 offerings. As usual, it’s an overwhelming list of concerts, talks, stage performances, tours, children’s activities, special events…
Here at Theater Jerk I’ll just concentrate on the theater and dance performances.
It’s not that I don’t want to explain the whole freakin’ list to you; it’s just that I don’t want to do it twice, since I’m already doing a general overview for the New Haven Independent.
I’ve already revealed one of them, in a blog post a couple weeks back:
Elevator Repair Service’s Supreme Court free-speech concoction Arguendo, based on transcripts of oral arguments from the 1991 Barnes v. Glen Theatre decision. The show’s been in New York and Washington DC previously. It’ll be at Arts & Ideas June 18-22. There’ll be a talkback after each performance, plus an “Ideas” panel of “First Amendment and Supreme Court experts” on June 22; said experts are scholar Robert Post, Pulitzer-winner and Yale Law School lecturer Linda Greenhouse (who was present at Thursday’s A&I announcement) and Slate magazine’s Emily Bazelon.
Also already covered, here,
is the two musicals-in-development chosen for workshopping at the Yale Institute for Music Theatre. Tickets to the “open rehearsal readings” are sold through the A&I box office. The shows are Afterland and Clouds Are Pillows for the Moon.
Now, the new stuff:
• Lemon Anderson’s one-man hip-hop autobio comedy-tinged coming-of-age show County of Kings, developed and directed by Elise Thoron, is at the Yale University Theatre June 14 & 15, with a post-show discussion on the 14th.
• Two clown acts—Compagnie Barolosolo June 14 & 15 and Acrobuffo June 27 & 28—are on New Haven Green. Both involve lots of water. Compagnie Barolosolo’s show Ile O involves a shallow pool of and a climbable metal archway.
The Acrobuffo show Waterbombs has this busking clown duo tossing water balloons at each other and at brave participants from the audience.
• Adele Myers & Dancers is a Connecticut-based company deserving of festival attention. Their new show, Einstein’s Happiest Thought, has a score by Josh Quillen of the neoclassical ensemble group So Percussion (which has Yale roots). It plays June 24-28 at Yale’s Iseman Theater.
• David Greig, who wrote the National Theatre of Scotland production of The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart, which played the Playwright (which is now the Russian Lady) on Temple Street in 2012, returns to the festival with The Events. This one, a hit at Edinburgh last summer, involves half a dozen local choirs, and is co-produced by the England-based Actors Touring Company, Norway’s Brageteatret, Vienna’s Schauspielhaus, and London’s Young Vic Theatre, which will present the show in July/August shortly after Arts & Ideas has had it.
• Les 7 Doigts de la Main (7 Fingers), which performed its Sequence 8 show at the Shubert for the festival just last summer, returns with its touring show Traces, June 24-28, in a different venue—the Yale University Theatre. Last year, 7 Fingers could say they’d contributed tricks to the Broadway revival of Pippin. This year, they can boast that revival’s on tour; it’ll be at Hartford’s Bushnell next winter.
• Jack Hitt, who had a one-man show in a past festival, returns with something characterized as more of a lecture, about his experience with battery-operated cars. “From Electric Car to Obsolete Highways” is delivered June 15 at 3 p.m.
• The Martha Redbone Roots Project’s free concert on New Haven Green June 15 includes William Blake poems set to music. The cultural reclamation project Cry You One opens the show with “music and dances from the cultures of South Louisiana’s vanishing coastal communities.”
• John Browne, composer for The Events, and Byron Au Yong, who wrote the music by Stuck Elevator (the new musical which played Arts & Ideas last year) take part in an Ideas discussion, “Can Art Mediate Conflict?,” on June 27.
• Theater-related acts on the Family Stage include the Polynesian culture troupe Kahana Hula June 19, the “operatic superheroes” of Operation Superpower June 16, and a special performance of Acrobuffo’s Waterbombs June 27.
• Reggie Wilson, Adele Myers and Acrobuffos all lead master classes/workshops, while the Stuck Elevator team of Aaron Jafferis and Byron Au Yong hold a June 28 event titled “Working Through It: Artists on Developing New Work.”
Again, that’s just the theatry stuff. There are endless concerts, talks, thematic tours of the city, etc. etc.
The whole list is at the A&I website, here.
My immediate impressions are that in past years there’s often been something profoundly classical on the sched—a Shakespeare adaptation, or a classical music concert with theatrical elements. That’s not true of this year.
There’s also no equivalent, among the concert attractions, of having the Kronos Quartet (last summer) or Asphalt Orchestra (2012) or Silk Road Project (2011) live for free on New Haven Green. But Dianne Reeves doing pop standards with a full orchestra is nothing to sniff at.
There are no hard and fast rules about established works at the festival, and it’s far better that A&I puts its money into new works. It’s about time Elevator Repair Service has visited New Haven, Lemon Andersen is likely to be a crowdpleaser, and The Events is a bonafide event in itself. It’s great that so many of the acts are youth-oriented.
My personal gauge of the quality of Arts & Ideas programming is how much stuff I haven’t seen or heard of, and have to look up. This year, that’s a pretty high percentage. So I’m as excited as ever.