International Festival bringing ‘serious fun’ to the city

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The members of the Australian circus arts troupe Circa will present their unique blend of acrobatics, dance, and theater during the festival.

“Serious Fun” is the theme of the 2012 International Festival of Arts & Ideas, taking place June 16-30 at various sites around the Yale campus and the city.

“The 17th annual International Festival of Arts & Ideas is a 15-day extravaganza of seriously good fun — an opportunity to tickle your senses, engage your mind, find inspiration, and launch an adventure,” says Mary Lou Aleskie, the festival’s executive director.

The annual event has over the years served up an eclectic array of dance, music, and theatrical performances; lectures, workshops, and master classes; and walking, bike, and “foodie” tours, among other special events. This year’s festival will continue that tradition. Some of the highlights will include:

  • A free, opening-night concert on the New Haven Green — “Sing the Truth!” — honoring the music and spirit of the great women of jazz, the blues, folk, gospel, and rhythm and blues. It will star award-winning vocalists Angélique Kidjo, Dianne Reeves, and Lizz Wright.
  • The American premiere of a new production from the National Theatre of Scotland, “The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart.”
  • An adaptation of “King Lear,” with Taiwanese actor Wu Hsing-Kuo performing all the parts.
    King Lear
    Taiwan’s Contemporary Legend Theater will present a version of “King Lear” that fuses time-honored Peking Opera techniques with Shakespeare’s classic tragedy.
  • A classic performance of works from the Mark Morris Dance Group — “A Lake/Jesu Meine Freude/Gloria” — conducted by Mark Morris himself.
  • A “Dinosaur Petting Zoo” on the New Haven Green, featuring life-like prehistoric creatures created by the Australian theater and visual arts troupe ERTH.
  • High-flying acrobatics, dance, and theatrics by the Australian circus arts troupe Circa.
  • A talk by Philippe Petit, who committed the “artistic crime of the century” when he walked on a wire between the World Trade Center Towers in 1974. His talk will kick off the festival’s Ideas series of lectures and conversations.
  • Weekday performances on the New Haven Green at noon and 6 p.m.
  • “Group Intelligence,” an audience-participation event billed as a “flash mob meets art and science.”
  • A free, final-night concert on the New Haven Green by Rosanne Cash, who will perform works from her album “The List.”

See the full list of festival events.

Yale is a longtime sponsor of the International Festival of Arts and Ideas, and many of the events are held in campus venues. This year’s Yale-Festival collaborations also include:

Sing the Truth
Vocalists Angélique Kidjo, Dianne Reeves, and Lizz Wright will present a tribute to legendary female singers in the opening-night concert, “Sing the Truth!”
  • The Yale International Choral Festival, which will bring together six renowned choirs from different countries — including the Yale Alumni Chorus. See related story.
  • The creation of an information pavilion on the New Haven Green designed by students from the Yale School of Architecture.
  • The world premiere of “love fail,” a new evening-length theater work from Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang, presented in association with the Yale Repertory Theatre.
  • A reading of two new music theater works that were the focus of a two-week residency at the Yale Institute for Musical Theater.
  • A film series titled “Paradise Regained: Truth, Documentary, and the Struggle for Innocence,” produced in association with the Yale Summer Film Institute. The series of three documentaries follow three teenagers who were wrongly accused and convicted of murder.
  • Yale experts talking as part of the Ideas program. These include philosophy professor Tamar Gendler on five ancient secrets to happiness; Yale University Art Gallery director Jock Reynolds on works by New Haven artist Winfred Rembert; and alumnus David Henry Hwang and Yale-China Association executive director Nancy Yao Maasbach on the U.S.-China literary landscape.
  • Tours of campus landmarks such as Marsh Botanic Gardens, Yale’s West Campus, Mory’s, and more, presented by the Yale Visitor Center.

Many of the festival activities are free, while others are ticketed. Visit the 2012 International Festival for Arts and Ideas website for more information, or to purchase tickets.

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