Tonight the Yale Cabaret features the limited engagement of its third annual drag show, or Dragaret. Three shows, tonight only, 8 p.m., 10 p.m., 12 p.m. Shows are sold out but there is a wait list. I’ll be there at midnight and will report on what I see. Go here for my review of the Cab’s Catfight, from last week. And here’s my report on the rest of the 2014-15 season at the Cab. Six more shows, stretching to late April. A varied line-up, and none of the shows are of the “straight-forward-staging of preexisting play” variety. Which means that, as of this writing, what will actually transpire is still a bit “to be determined.”
First up, Cab 13, February 19-21, is Shiny Objects, a devised piece proposed by third-year actors Maura Hooper—a recurring star of the Cab—and Zenzi Williams, who hasn’t been back in a while. They will be directed by the always formidable Christopher Geary in a play that draws on interviews with real-life females, aged from 7 to 85. The show finds its inspiration in the third-year actor character studies, a training practice that lets actors perform as “persons” rather than “characters.” While not professing a single, overtly feminist point, the show aims to present female viewpoints, with experiences across generational divides and differences providing themes in conversation with one another.
Cab 14, February 26-28, is known as The Untitled Project, featuring another Cab regular Ato Blankson-Wood who will both direct and perform (Blankson-Wood directed the opening show of the season) in this unique ensemble piece. Using music, text, movement, and certain design elements, the project features a collage of black male voices to attest not only to the fact that “Black Lives Matter” but to discover perspectives not often dramatized or presented.
Georg Büchner is one of the more intriguing playwrights of his time; a Romantic but also something of modernist avant le lettre, his plays can be notoriously hard to pin down. Leonce and Lena, Cab 15, March 5-7, features a challenging new translation by Yale School of Drama student Gavin Whitehead and is directed by first-year director Elizabeth Dinkova. The play—which the Cab blurb calls a “dark and comic romp”—involves the quandary of Prince Leonce: should he be a puppet and marry as is expected of him, remaining bound to the duties of court, or ... With a production that involves actors and sock puppets, a constructed set and cubist costumes, the show should be a visual extravaganza.
After two weeks dark, the Cab returns with something rather unusual: opera. Cab 16, March 26-28, is The Medium, a chamber opera by Gian Carlo Menotti, best known perhaps for the Christmas opera Amahl and the Night Visitors. Proposed by opera buffs Anh Lê, who has worked on or produced many Cab shows, and third-year set designer Adrian Martinez Frausto, The Medium tells the story of Madame Flora, a bogus medium who conducts séances to bilk clients. This isn’t the first work of classical music to be staged in the Cab, but recent events such as Solo Bach or Pierrot Lunaire didn’t feature actor-singers. That will be part of the draw here.
Cab 17, April 2-4, brings us a new experimental piece in 5 acts written and directed by dramaturg Jessica Rizzo, Sister Sandman Please. Described as “a poetic tête-à-tête between fantasy and disaster,” set in a “prairie of the mind,” the show features 3 women and a cowboy, a tumbleweed farm, and, most importantly, a dynamic soundscape where a cascade of voices explore the theatrical potential of sound to evoke a range of sensory experiences.
Finally, Cab 18, Make Believe the Make Happen, April 23-25, finishes the season with what might be considered a somewhat meta creation. Inverting the current Cab’s slogan—Make Happen the Make Believe—the show purports to be a FUNdraiser for #KIDSDIDIT, an Iowa-based program that incorporates plays written by middle-schoolers into theatrical productions. Combining elements familiar from the School of Drama’s Dwight-Edgewood Project, which works with school children to create theater, and the Cab itself, which remains a working-space for creative ferment that requires community support, the final show of the season may well concern the future of theater, so—“open your hearts and your wallets!”
And by then we’ll know who will continue the ongoing project that is the Yale Cabaret for Season 48. During the dark weeks there may be other offerings in the Cab space, so keep an eye open for such announcements. And, as ever, see you at the Cab!
Yale Cabaret 217 Park Street New Haven, CT
Artistic Directors: Hugh Farrell, Tyler Kieffer, Will Rucker; Managing Director Molly Hennighausen