Beginning this weekend and running for the next two, A Broken Umbrella Theatre brings its latest fall project to the Ives Main Library in New Haven. If you know the work of ABUT, you know that they concoct new theatrical pieces as site-specific works in various historical New Haven locations. The current work, entitled simply The Library Project, was commissioned by the New Haven Free Public Library Foundation to mark the 125th anniversary of the library, a fixture upon the green since 1887.
The audience will tour three floors of the library, moving from room to room in different groups, finding in their travels seven original works—involving song, dance, puppets, spectacle—staged in suitable areas of the building. For instance, the story of “RIP” involves a muralist going between different times the way Rip Van Winkle does—and that segment is set in the basement of the library where the WPA murals featuring Rip are located. All the segments feature some aspect of the history and function of the library, and are produced by the team of ABUT in collaboration with others—ABUT’s ranks for this production, their grandest yet, have been expanded to over 60 participants, all volunteer, including the Executive Director of the New Haven Free Public Library, Christopher Korenowsky, and Will Baker, Executive Director of the Institute Library (which predates the NHFPL).
If earlier ABUT projects are any indication, the show will be entertaining, lively, and fun for viewers age 8 and up.
A Broken Umbrella Theatre is committed to making theater accessible to all, so the pricing for the shows is “pay what you can.” Reservations are strongly recommended: www.abrokenumbrella.org. Box office opens one hour prior to the show at Ives Main Library, 133 Elm Street, New Haven. And before the show begins, you can avail yourself of beer or wine in the lobby and chat about the facts behind the fiction with ABUT’s Artistic Directory Ian Alderman and historian Colin Caplan.
A Broken Umbrella Theatre The Library Project October 20–21, 27–28; November 3–4 Saturdays at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Sundays at 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Later in November, New Haven’s other local theater group, New Haven Theater Company, will be mounting David Mamet’s Speed the Plow, another intense, confrontational play from the master of late 20th-century speak. Directed by company member George Kulp, the show includes two members of last year’s ambitious NHTC project, Urinetown: Megan Keith Chenot as Karen, and Steve Scarpa, who directed last year’s rousing Waiting for Lefty, as Fox; J. Kevin Smith, memorable as Ricky Roma in the NHTC production of Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, plays Gould.
Mamet is the go-to guy for small theater companies like NHTC, as his dramas have small casts, don’t require much scenery, and offer commanding showcases for character interaction. NHTC has already been noted for their grasp of Mametry with Glengarry Glen Ross, and Speed the Plow which, yes, actually features a woman in its cast, should give them ample opportunity to sling speech in this satire of movie industry insiders. Gould is the new Head of Production at a major Hollywood studio, and Fox, his friend for 11 years, brings him a project: a film that should be a blockbuster and make them both rich. Karen, an office temp, questions the value of the film, opening up Gould and Fox to considerations of their priorities.
New Haven Theater Company David Mamet's Speed the Plow UpCrown Studios, 216 Crown Street, New Haven
Wednesday, Nov. 14, 7 p.m. Friday, November 16, 7 p.m. Saturday, November 17, 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 and go on sale Tuesday, October 23.