This week the Yale Cabaret returns. The first three shows of the second half of the season have been announced with the others soon to follow. Artistic Directors Hugh Farrell, Tyler Kieffer, Will Rucker, and Managing Director Molly Hennighausen continue in their estimable efforts to bring the unusual, the challenging, the amusing, the exciting to 217 Park Street in New Haven. The Cab’s slogan this year is “Make Happen the Make Believe,” and the variety in the next three shows should give some idea of how variable “the Make Believe” can be.
First up is 50:13, written by second-year playwright at Yale School of Drama Jiréh Breon Holder, directed by second-year actor Jonathan Majors and featuring Leland Fowler, a first-year actor. Taking its title from a ratio, the percentage of black men in the U.S. prison population compared to the percentage of black men in the U.S. population, 50:13 takes us to a prison cell where Dae Brown, with only three days left to serve, tries to pass along his wisdom and knowledge to his much younger cell-mate, who has only begun serving his sentence. Based on oral histories from prisoners, Holder’s play seeks to provide a human and dramatic look at the lived realities “inside.” Cab 10: January 15-17.
Cab 11 features a play by East German author Heiner Müller, a sort of Brecht meets Beckett figure best known in the U.S. for Hamletmachine. In Quartet, directed by second-year dramaturg David Bruin and featuring first-year actors Edmund Donovan and Sydney Lemmon, Müller adapts Laclos’s well-known (and oft adapted) 18th-century story of seduction and subterfuge, Les liaisons dangereuses. Müller’s adaptation foregrounds, we might say, the reality principle over the pleasure principle in depicting the erotic machinations of Valmont and Mertueil. Cab 11: January 22-24.
For Cab 12 we’re back to the kind of campy undertakings at which the Cab oft excels. Episode #121: Catfight, by husband and wife team Tori Keenan-Zelt and Steven Koernig, directed by Koernig, a second-year theater manager, takes its cue from the 1966-68 Batman series, beloved, in some quarters anyway, as the height of oddball Sixties TV. Needless to say, if you find Christian Bale to be your Caped Crusader for all time, you need to expand your horizons and check this out. If you remember (I do) or rediscovered the old TV show, then you’ll understand why I have to quote the Cab’s blurb for this one in its entirety: “As the graceful gals of our fair city prepare to compete in the hallowed Lady Gotham
pageant scholarship competition, felonious feline fugitive Catwoman sinks her claws into a plan that could unravel the whole ball of string. Can Batman and Robin make this cat stray, or will mischief and mayhem purr-vail? Tune in to find out. Same Cab-time. Same Cab-channel.” Cab 12: February 5-7.
It’s a new year in New Haven. See you at the Cab!