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Article Published May 29, 2019
From Cocktails to Stonewall 50; Arts & Ideas Festival Explores Our World
Karen Isaacs, Columnists

Once again, the International Festival of Arts & Ideas promises a 15-day celebration with an eclectic lineup of concerts, performances, lectures, conversations, tours, exhibitions, boat tours, workshops, classes, and food experiences.

This year’s lineup includes music and dance that explore the traditions of India and Cuba, along with hip-hop, R&B, tap, Latinx, 60s music, experimental music, and much more. Lectures include Confronting Identity; Living for the City; Anthropene: Staging the Future; Cities of Peace; Stonewall at 50; and A Conversation with Author Michael Childers.

There will be neighborhood festivals, the Scene on the Green, a festival gala at New Haven’s brand new Canal Dock Boathouse, and an invitational slam poetry competition with a $1,00 cash prize.

From the history of the cocktail to healing the trauma of conflict, a wide range of topics and issues will be covered during the fest, this year running from Saturday, June 8 to Saturday, June 23. In addition to providing fun, food for thought, and food, the festival also will once again have a huge economic impact on the area by drawing tens of thousands of people to the events.

And more than 80 percent of the events are free.

Here are some of the highlights. To find out more visit www.artidea.org/festival.

Indignation, Outrageousness, Complexity

On June 28, 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, a routine raid of a gay bar, which were illegal at the time, turned into almost a week of protests and riots as the patrons and other people who were gay decided that they’d suffered enough abuse at the hands of law enforcement and legal system in particular and society as a whole.

The riots led to increased political activism and the creation of many organizations working for gay rights.

The Arts & Ideas Festival, along with other venue throughout the country, is commemorating the significance of the Stonewall rebellion with several events. Most of the events are free and open to the public. Reservations may be needed for some.

One of the questions the festival is exploring is how best to commemorate this landmark event, while also recognizing that this was an impromptu reaction that lacked certainty and cohesion.

Ain Gordon and HB Lozito will be discussing Stonewall, and how to honor it, during a free, no-tickets-required, just show up, discussion on Thursday, June 13 at 5:30 p.m. in the Alexion Pharmaceutical Auditorium, 100 College Street, New Haven. The questions they will discuss include, “How do we tribute the indignation, outrageousness (fabulousness) and complexity of ALL those present 50 years ago—without retroactively endowing them with certainty or cohesion or de-problematizing their differences?”

Gordon is an award winning playwright whose works focus on marginalized or forgotten histories, and the people who often are invisible. At last year’s festival his Radicals in Miniature was presented. Another of his works, 217 Boxes of Dr. Henry Anonymous deals with Dr. John Fryer who, disguised as Dr. Anonymous, in 1972 opposed the American Psychiatric Association’s classification of homosexuality as a disease. Joining him in the discussion is HB Lozito who is executive director of Green Mountain Crossroads. The organization builds the power of rural LGBTQ people. Lozito’s work explores the hidden history of rural gay bars, discos, and hotels that existed from 1973 to around 1984.

That same day, Trinity Church on the Green will its annual art show which coincides with the festival. This year, the works on display feature art by, about, and collected by the local LGBTQ community. The opening reception from 7 to 9 p.m. following the talk. Later that evening, the church invites all to a gathering outside for a public showing of the PBS American Experience documentary, Stonewall Uprising.

For those who would like to know more about New Haven’s historic LGBTQ+ sites, on Sunday, June 16 at 1:30 p.m., the walking tour “Peeking into New Haven’s Closet” will point out downtown and Yale spots that have a history for these groups. Sponsored by the New Haven Pride Center, it will be led by founder and historian John D. Allen, Ed.D. Later that day, Trinity Church on the Green will offer at 5 p.m. a special choral evensong.

Since Stonewall, more and more LGBTQ+ families have been created and have considered having children. Ad Infinitum, an international theater group based in Bristol, England will bring its production of No Kids to the festival from Wednesday, June 12 through Saturday, June 15 at the Iseman Theater, 1156 Chapel Street, New Haven. The company creates what it describes as “shape-shifting socio-political theatre to provoke, move, and inspire.”

The two co-artistic directors, Nu Paldi and George Mann perform the piece in which they (a real-life couple) confront the chaos and multiple considerations facing them as they decide if they should have kids.

The press material says, “The couple exhaustively poses questions without promoting any one answer, but their intentions are to encourage the audience to initiate conversation about parenthood rather than follow the status quo. Gus Mitchell of A Younger Theatre writes, ‘Issues of social pressure, stigma, worries of maintaining oneself, and one’s loneliness in later life are all valid and a conversation must exist loudly and honestly before solutions can be found.’...The play is born from both the ‘parts of our lives that are quite dark’ and the ‘beautiful things’ that comprise their relationship, as Nir describes. It is intimate, authentically detailing the raw thoughts of a modern-day couple.”

Eating, Exploring

New Haven pizza is world famous, and the city also has so much more to offer. Foodies, that term for people who love to explore new cuisines and the latest trends, also put New Haven on their must-visit list. The restaurant and food scene in the area is vibrant.

Each year, the festival includes a variety of events that will appeal to all who love New Haven’s food scene or who want to experiment with talks, tours, and more.

Alison Roman, a well-known cook, cookbook author, and food writer will be talking about her 2017 cookbook, Keep Dining In at the Alexion Pharmaceuticals Auditorium, 100 College Street, New Haven on Sunday, June 16 at 3:30 p.m.

The Fair Haven Farm and Garden Tour will take place on Wednesday, June 19 at 3 p.m., featuring highlights of the vibrant Fair Haven neighborhood, including various farms and gardens.

Culinary walking tours sell out quickly.

These events explore a wide variety of New Haven’s best cuisine and lots and lots of sampling.

The series begins on Saturday, June 8 at 4 p.m. with a History of the Cocktail tour that concludes with samples at The Ordinary. On Tuesday, June 11 at 5:30 p.m. a tour will feature multiple wine bars on State Street, and on Thursday, June 11 at 5:30 p.m. Bear’s at the Stack is exploring five Black Hog beers and BBQ pairings.

Lee Cruz, community outreach director for the New Haven Foundation, has been a leading one of the most popular of the culinary walking tours for several years. The Grand Avenue Gastronomy Tour on Saturday, June 15 at 2 p.m. will lead participants down Grand Avenue stopping to explore the wide variety of cuisines, including Mexican, Peruvian, Puerto Rican and more, while learning more about this historically diverse neighborhood.

Another chance to sample international cuisine will come with the World Refugee Day Food Bazaar on Thursday, June 20 at 5:30 p.m. Overseen by Sanctuary Kitchen, the Bazaar (a ticketed event) at the Festival Center on the Green, is, as the press material says, “an evening of cuisine and culture from around the world. Enjoy multicultural food and drink prepared by recently resettled refugees, and celebrate their contribution to the diverse and changing face of the Greater New Haven Area.” While you are enjoying the food, the musical program on the New Haven Green from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. is the Om Shalom Trio, featuring their Far Eastern and Middle Eastern roots to create a fusion of Indian Classical and Folk.

What will we be eating in 2030 or beyond? Two events focus on sustainable food and the food of the future. Feast of the Future on Wednesday, June 19 at 5:30 p.m. features food that will be environmentally sustainable including seaweed, insects, wild meat, and weeds. Nadine Nelson of Global Local Gourmet will prepare dishes inspired by our future food sources.

The Sustainable Kitchen on Friday, June 21 at 3 p.m. is presented by Hamilton Park at the Blake Hotel. Chef Matt Lambert —who has lots of awards and honors— will provide an introduction to sustainably sourced seafood, why it’s important, how you can source responsibly, and how to prepare a simple but inspired fish dish at home. Sommelier Kim Kunzik will be on hand to pair wines of similar terroir and farming philosophies.

Music, Dance

Tap dance has a rich American history that will be celebrated by the Dorrance Dance Mylineation performance on Tuesday, June 11 at the Shubert Theater. Choreographer Michelle Dorrance and her troupe will show the connection between tap and its roots, jazz and jump blues, and today’s hip-hop and indie rock.

Can schematic devices make music?

Those interested in that question, or even those wondering what schematic devices are, can find out at Quantum Sound on Friday, June 14 (with two performances being offered) at Firehouse 12 on Crown Street. Scientists from Yale Quantum Institute and composer Spencer Topel will show how the measurements inside superconducting quantum devices can create music.

It’s the 100th anniversary of Pete Seeger’s birth and The Kronos Quartet will celebrate that as well as Zachary J. Walker’s “Peace Be Till” inspired by Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. It’s at the Shubert Theater of Tuesday, June 18.

Exploring New Haven

I was born here, but it is surprising how much about New Haven don’t know. So, I am planning on taking several of the free walking tours to learn more. I’d like to spend time in New Haven Public Library on the Green with the tour Ives Squared (offered Wednesday, June 19 at 1:30 and Friday, June 21 at 3 p.m.

But I’ll pick from one of the neighborhood tours: Autumn Street on Tuesday, June 18 at 1:30, Lincoln & Bradley Streets (Thursday, June 20 at 1:30) or Hillhouse Avenue on Tuesday, June 11 at 1:30.

Yale has two new residential colleges that I’ve never explored. I want to remedy that with the tour on Tuesday, June 18 at 3 p.m.

Ideas

Theater is a passion of mine so I’m attending the “Anthropocene: Staging the Future” talk on Sunday, June 9 at 2:30 p.m. at the . Director Thaddeus Phillips talks about this new work that begins development this summer in Madrid. Anthropocene means the current geological age in which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment.

We know art is therapeutic so I will be hearing “Cities of Peace: Healing the Trauma of Conflict through Art” on Tuesday, June 11 at 5:30. Ellen Frank, Ph.D., founder of Cities of Peace will discuss the work the group done all over the world in cities torn by war and ethnic conflict to help citizens turn their anguish into art.

On the Green

Every day during the International Festival of Arts and Ideas, free events—mostly musical—are on the New Haven Green for all to enjoy.

• Stony Creek’s Legacy Theater’s new Wheel Life Theatre Troupe will perform at 5:20 p.m. on Sunday, June 9. The troupe is for, as it described, those who “ambulate with wheelchairs or crutches and their siblings.”

• Luke Hendon performs on Wednesday, June 12 at noon with his acoustic combo. It’s a French style acoustic group that performs modern gypsy music with references to Django Reinhardt.

•St. Luke’s Steel Band is from New Haven’s St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. The band began in 1999 and has been entertaining ever since. It’s on Thursday, June 13 at 6:30.

• For two hours on Friday, June 14, gospel music takes over the green beginning at 6:30 p.m. Titled “Yesterday, Today & Forever” the concert features a number of local performers that look at the history and future of gospel music.

• The circus meets Hawaii with The Flyin’ Hawaiian Show on Saturday, June 15 at 1:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., and 4:30 p.m. and Sunday, June 16 at noon, 1:45 p.m, and 3 p.m. It may be one person but it will delight all.

• Also on Saturday, June 15 and Sunday, June 16, teams from local organizations will be competing to see who can build the best sculpture on the theme of “homes” from soup cans. You can vote for your favorite in this competition that supports the Downtown Soup Kitchen.

• The Boy Who Would Be Captain Hook is on the Green on Thursday, June 20 at 1:15 p.m. David Harrell tells his life story. Born without a right hand and using a hook, he was ignored at school until a game of Peter Pan changed his view and the others as well.

• The crowds may be intimidating, but if I venture out to one the concerts on the Green it would be to see Salute the Summer on Saturday, June 22 at 7 p.m. It features Tiempo Libre, a Grammy nominated group and the New Haven Symphony Orchestra with its new director Alasdair McNeal.

 

Karen Isaacs of East Haven is a member of both the Connecticut Critics Circle and New York’s Outer Critics Circle. To check out her reviews for New York and Connecticut shows, visit 2ontheaisle.wordpress.com.