Take Back The Space

Something's been missing of late.  We're five weeks into the spring semester and there have only been two shows at The Yale Cabaret thus far.  But never fear: the Spring 2012 Yale Cabaret is now ready to offer seven more weeks of experimental theater.

Regulars know it’s been a challenging season thus far, with the combined efforts of Artistic Directors Kate Attwell, Lileana Blain-Cruz, Sunder Ganglani, and Michael Place, along with Managing Director Matt Gutschick, providing varied offerings that keep audiences guessing.

To say that the Cab thrives on the offbeat and improvisational is to state the obvious—consider Brainsongs, the one-man show by Gabe Levey that ran on the last weekend of January.  Described by Attwell, who helped develop the project with Levey and Cole Lewis and other contributors, as “an exercise in presence,” the show combined a great soundtrack of old jazz classics of the Ragtime era with various Andy Kauffmanesque activities featuring Levey.  Whether “soft-shoeing” in place, or getting freaky with an inflatable dolphin, or making a typewriter dance or paper petals levitate, Levey portrayed a kind of theatrical shut-in, coyly showing us around his private kingdom.  Just when you thought it was all for laughs, Levey would make you feel sad, and when you thought it was going to get creepy, it would turn endearing.

So what’s ahead?  Starting this Thursday, February 16th, the Cab offers four straight weeks of advanced theater.  First up, Third Year Director Jack Tamburri offers his take on Mac Wellman’s version of Dracula, which dates from 1987.  Wellman, a professor of playwrighting at Brooklyn College, is known for his impatience with such things as plot and character development.  Audiences can expect an experimental treatment of the literally deathless undead character first created by Bram Stoker in the nineteenth century and famously interpreted on screen by the likes of Bela Lugosi, and Christopher Lee . . . and Frank Langella, and Gary Oldman.  Using puppetry, song, comedy, and direct address, the play won’t be the musty old Gothic story we all know so well . . . for starters, the Count is a she.  Vampires, of course, are all the rage these days among the young and it will be interesting to see what Tamburri et al. do with the blood-sucking seductions of the genre.  Feb 16-18.

The following weekend, February 23-25, things get loose with Clutch Yr Amplified Heart Tightly and Pretend.  An exploration of dance for non-dancers, the piece is all about movement and creating “visual text” to celebrate first moments of intimacy: kissing, holding hands, hugs, even staring contests—whatever gets someone across to someone else—and involves YSD students who have done great work pushing the Cab farther out-there: designer Adam Rigg, and third-year actors Chris Henry and Jillian Taylor.

Dating from the early Sixties, Arthur Kopit’s Chamber Music takes us into an asylum where eight women each believes herself to be a famous woman from history—Joan of Arc, Amelia Earhart, Susan B. Anthony, Gertrude Stein, Queen Isabella I of Spain, Mozart’s wife Constanze, silent-film actress Pearl White, and explorer Osa Johnson—as they prepare for conflict with the men’s ward.  In its time, the play could be considered an effort to carnivalize the nascent women’s movement, and it should be interesting to see how director Kate McGerr interprets the play's sexual politics for our ostensibly more enlightened time; March 1-3

Shakespeare is being celebrated in various manifestations at Yale this semester, and the last play before a brief Spring Break Week is Yiddish King Lear, March 8-10, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s tale of intergenerational conflict and a tragic comeuppance to patriarchal power.  In the 1890s, Jacob Gordin adapted the play’s plot—Lear’s division of his kingdom among his three daughters—into Yiddish in a Jewish immigrant context, with the three daughters represented by three different aspects of Judaism.  Adapted by Martha Kaufman and Whitney Dibo, the play now moves back into English to address questions of “assimilation, family wealth and gender expectation.”

Check back later for more info about the final three shows of the season, and for more information about tickets, dining, and other fun facts about the Cab, visit: www.yalecabaret.org

Yale Cabaret 217 Park Street New Haven, CT 06511 (203) 432-1566 ysd.cabaret@yale.edu

See you at the Cab!