Back to the Cab

This week the Yale Cabaret comes roaring back for four straight weeks before ending the first semester with Cab 9 the first weekend in December.  So what’s in store for the cooler nights ahead?

First up, this weekend, is The Secretaries, written by The Five Lesbian Brothers and directed by third-year actor Melanie Field, fresh from her mercurial turn as Lily Sabina in Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of Our Teeth. The Yale Cabaret co-artistic directors David Bruin, Julian Elijah Martinez, and Leora Morris describe the play as “funny, poignant, violent, scary, and wild,” and it’s been called “hilarious and horrifying.” The team say they were unable to resist the proposal for the play which was presented eloquently by Field as a way of reflecting on the status of female actors in the profession. The five other female actors in Field’s year—Jenelle Chu, Annie Hägg, Chalia La Tour, Annelise Lawson, Shaunette Renée Wilson—are featured in this story of secretaries who form a kind of secret society with its own rituals. Morris likens the play to Euripedes’ Bacchae with the wildness the women, once they get worked up, are able to get up to, but the play should also make us think about the genre of women in the workplace stories. It’s open season on lumberjacks when these ladies get together. October 29-31.

The first full weekend of November brings The Commencement of William Tan by Don X. Nguyen, directed by second-year actor Lauren E. Banks in this world premiere. Proposed by second-year actor Eston Fung who stars as the title character, with Ashley Chang, a frequent Cab performer, as dramaturg, the play features second-year actor Baize Buzan, recently seen as Maggie Antrobus in The Skin of Our Teeth. William is a happily assimilated Chinese-American kid starting his senior year in high school when racial tensions escalate between fellow athletes and recent Asian immigrants in the school, causing William to have to determine what identity really defines him. Martinez says the play begins like a 90s’ sitcom, say “Saved by the Bell set in a racially tense midwestern town,” and “then the floor falls out” as the play journeys into “dark territory” about race and growing up in America. November 5-7.

Next up is Roberto Zucco, described by Bruin as “a thriller about a serial killer with a philosophical bent.” The play, by French playwright Bernard-Marie Koltès (whose play Battle of Black and Dogs was directed at Yale Rep by Robert Woodruff back in 2010), fictionalizes the story of Roberto Succo, who, as an Italian teen, killed his parents and later, after escaping from a psychiatric hospital, went on a crime and killing spree in the mid-Eighties. The play, with its large cast of 8, will be the directorial debut at Yale of Christopher Ghaffari, a second-year actor who worked as a director while a Princeton undergrad. The play, the Cab team says, is not so much about Zucco's crimes as about our social perception of criminals, the coverage of the man-hunt, and the reactions to the character of Zucco by the community he terrorizes. November 12-14.

Opera, which was featured last season with the excellent rendering of Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Medium, returns to the Cab with Trouble in Tahiti, directed by Lynda Paul, who played the daughter in The Medium. The one-act “jazz-opera,” by Leonard Bernstein, recalls, in its title, the saying “trouble in paradise,” where “paradise” is a 1950s upper-class suburb inhabited by a troubled married couple, Sam and Dinah, who see a film with the show's title. A seven-scene work with a baritone and mezzo-soprano in the main roles, the score is fleshed out by a jazz vocal trio—two males and a female—who represent a kind of Greek chorus, conceived as the voice of radio advertising, forever prescribing commercial palliatives to the emotional ennui the couple endures. Dating from 1952, the piece was a dark look at the false promises of suburban bliss, but, the Cab team points out, many of the same views of status—career, possessions and property—are just as goading to the young of today. The score is played by a three-piece jazz band, including Jill Brunelle who so ably adapted Menotti’s score for piano and played the piece in performance last spring. November 19-21.

The final show before the winter break, following Thanksgiving break, is the English-language premiere of Boris Yeltsin, a play by Mickaël de Oliveira, translated from the Portuguese by Maria Inês Marques, and directed by second-year director Elizabeth Dinkova, co-director of last season’s foray into puppets and Büchner, Leonce and LenaBoris Yeltsin, which is not about the former president of the Russian Federation, is described by Morris as “a dark and grotesque tragi-comedy” that is also a protracted riff on the Oresteia. De Oliveira looks at the situation of the familiar Greek tragedy, about fate and family, revenge and Furies, and proposes an Orestes with no motive for vengeance. Though, in this case, the play is set within the context of postcolonial Portugal, and political and economic life in the shadow of “super-powers.” December 3-5.

And so there you have it: sexism, racism, our fascination with figures of violence in our midst, the death-in-life of white suburbia, and the world as seen from Portugal. So, till we hit that period long ago dubbed “the pre-Christmas vagaries,” see you at the Cab!



Yale Cabaret
217 Park Street, New Haven

For tickets and info, go here.