Last weekend the Yale Cabaret offered its second-ever Yale School of Drag—memorable for many things, including Lupita Nyong’o drag, but if you missed it, then you missed it. And if you saw it, far be it from me to tell you what you saw. This week the Cab is back with the first of the eight shows that continue the second part of the 2013-14 Season. Artistic Directors Whitney Dibo, Lauren Dubowski, and Kelly Kerwin have arrived at an interesting mix of shows. Five are pre-existing plays, two are never-before-seen productions, and one is a mixture: a devised setting for known pieces (a bit like Radio Show in the fall).
The first three shows are scheduled beginning this week and for the next two weeks, then a two-week break, three more shows, a week dark, and then the final two. Got it? Here’s what’s coming:
Cab 11 is The Small Room at the Top of the Stairs, proposed by 2nd-year Set Designer Adrian Frausto (whose excellent work on Hedda Gabler closed recently) and directed by 3rd-year Director Cole Lewis, whose varied and unsettling thesis show The Visit was offered in the fall. The play, running for the Valentine's Day weekend, looks at the darker side of romance with a revisiting of the Bluebeard tale of the wealthy man who marries a woman and gives her everything, except . . . she can’t go into that room at the top of the stairs. If your Valentine is the kind who loves a good scare, then this is the place to be. And when was the last time the Cab offered a thriller based on tension and suspense? Written by Canadian playwright Carole Fréchette, the play, Dibo promises, will offer an unusual configuration of the Cab playing space and, with its theme of trust in romance, is perhaps all-too apropos for Valentine’s Day. February 13-15
Next comes Jean Genet’s psychological drama The Maids, proposed by 3rd-year Director Dustin Wills, Co-Artistic Director of Yale Summer Cabaret 2013, whose startlingly unusual Peter Pan played in December. The play, which usually takes place among three women—the mistress and her two maids—will be played by three males, “performing rituals of gender,” according to Dubowski, within a staged space constructed by Kate Noll with sound design by Tyler Kieffer. The idea is to present us with a space full of mirrors and different lines of sight so that the audience is placed in the roles of voyeurs and eavesdroppers, spying on what the maids get-up to behind the scenes. Mainstays of the Summer Cab 2013, Mickey Theis and Chris Bannow, will be joined by first-year actor, Andrew Burnap. February 20-22
The third show before the break is He Left Quietly, proposed by 1st-year Director Leora Morris, a play by Yaël Farber about Duma Kumalo, a man sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit in apartheid South Africa. Kumalo’s story, which involves a stay-of-execution delivered on the day the death sentence was to be carried out, followed by another four years of incarceration for a total of 7 years in prison, is a story of a man’s spirit triumphing over unspeakable deprivations. The show, which features three 2nd-year actors, Ato Blankson-Wood, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Maura Hooper, returns us to the dark realities of apartheid South Africa and a search for justice. February 27-March 1
After two dark weeks, the Cab will return with The Crazy Shepherds of Rebellion, a partly devised piece proposed by 1st-year Dramaturg David Bruin. The show will transform the Cab into a Greenwich Village basement in the early 1960s where beatniks and bohemians gather to check out two one-acts by two of their own: Edward Albee and María Irene Fornés. The production takes us back to when these darlings of the theatrical world were still “up-and-coming” and where the surroundings for the play are part of the play in a time of porous conceptions of theater. March 20-22
Cab 15 is We Fight We Die by Long Island-born playwright Timothy J. Guillot and directed by 1st-year playwright Jiréh Breon Holder; the play looks at the fate of the work of graffiti artist Q in his tussle with City Hall, which aims to stamp out his form of art. With a Greek chorus rapping to us about the struggle and original works of art by MFA students in the Yale School of Art, the show provides an interesting collaboration between art forms and media that should be aurally and visually challenging, and, with the recent obliteration of 5Pointz in Long Island City, very timely. March 27-29
Next comes an unusual devised piece from 3rd-year actor and Co-Artistic Director of Summer Cabaret 2013, Chris Bannow. The source material: The Mystery Boy, Bannow’s sister’s original 126-page novel, written two years ago when she was 11. With 2nd-year dramaturg Helen Jaksch (seen in the fall as M in Crave) co-directing, the ensemble cast will be put through their paces with a love triangle, adventures involving the Mafia, vacation romance, and the various pleasures and perils of social media as the lingua franca of our current pre-teen world. April 3-5
2nd-year playwright Ryan Campbell—his Dead Ends was a studio play this past fall—offers his own A New Saint for a New World, directed by 2nd-year director Sara Holdren, who directed Tiny Boyfriend in the fall. The premise: Joan of Arc wants to return to earth; God finally agrees on the condition that she not start any wars or revolutions. Conceived as “a real big play for a small room,” Saint considers the possibilities for faith in 2014 NYC and the frustrations faced by a heroic crusader forbidden to crusade. April 17-19
Cab 18, the last of the season, might be a somewhat obvious choice: The Brothers Size by Tarell Alvin McCraney, the YSD graduate playwright who recently won a Yale Windham-Campbell Writing Prize and a MacArthur “genius” Award in the same year. Three 1st year actors, Jonathan Majors, Julian Elijah Martinez, and Galen Kane proposed the play, written while McCraney was a third-year at YSD, and made their case that it’s a play they have an urgent need to enact due to their personal histories and the unique opportunity offered by the Cab. Directed by Luke Harlan, the play is the story of two brothers—Ogun runs a car-repair shop, the other, Oshoozi, recently released from prison, comes to work for him—and a third man, Elegba, also come from jail, who visits to bring Oshoozi a gift. Set in the bayou country of Louisiana and involving music and African myths, the play should end the Cab’s 46th Season with a strong finish as YSD pays tribute to one of its own. April 24-26
So, that’s what you can look forward to in the weeks ahead. See you at the Cab!
Yale Cabaret 217 Park Street New Haven, CT
Season 46 Co-Artistic Directors: Whitney Dibo, Lauren Dubowski, Kelly Kerwin Managing Director: Shane Hudson