New Haven International Festival of Arts and Ideas Celebrates the Cusp of Change | Connecticut Public Radio

New Haven International Festival of Arts and Ideas Celebrates the Cusp of Change

Jun 16, 2016

The New Haven Festival of Arts and Ideas is well underway. It’s two weeks filled with an eclectic mix of programs and includes artists from around the world. 

The festival is 15 days of music, theater, lectures, and tours.

Executive Director Mary Lou Aleskie said that’s only part of what it has to offer.

"This isn’t the kind of festival that you just come to one performance, you sit in a seat, and you passively watch," she said. "You have ideas events that engage you in the themes that are coming out of these performances. You have talk backs with artists. You have master classes for free, where you can come and not only see their technique, but learn it and participate in it."

One of this year’s highlights comes from the National Theatre of Scotland called Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour. It’s performed by six women.

"It is this fantastic coming-of-age journey," Aleskie said. "Almost an anthem to coming of age, and being a strong woman, and surviving teenage years. And it is a raunchy robust romp that just leaves you feeling like there’s nothing but hope for the future."

Out of more than 200 events, Aleskie said there are plenty of programs for families. She described a can’t-miss piece called Air Play.

A scene from Air Play.
Credit International Festival of Arts and Ideas

"This is a circus artist company, set to [Gustav] Holst — The Planets," she said. "So if you could think about an acrobatic dance of things flying through the air to that great, wonderful, enchanting music."

There are some familiar artists like the New York-based ensemble Bang on a Can All-Stars. This year they’ve collaborated with Pulitzer prize-winning composer Julia Wolfe for a theatrical experience called Steel Hammer. The performance explores the legend of John Henry, the steel-driving railroad worker.

"It is being staged and looked at through the lens of the John Henry myth," Aleskie said. "What it means to be an American hero. And an American hero in work. And what is work equity? And so it poses all of these questions in this beautifully staged evening."

The Festival runs through June 25.