This year’s international festival aims to inspire the ‘dreaming of new worlds’

“Dreaming New Worlds” is the theme of this year’s International Festival of Arts & Ideas, a 15-day celebration that — its organizers predict —will encourage attendees to imagine, dream, feel inspired, and explore innovation.

High-flying acrobat and noted circus artist David Dimitri in his one-man show “L’homme Cirque”
High-flying acrobat and noted circus artist David Dimitri in his one-man show “L’homme Cirque”

Taking place in New Haven for the 18th year June 15-29, the nationally recognized festival features theatrical and music performances, lectures and conversations, walking and bicycle tours, food events, activities for families and children, and more. Performers come from around the globe.

“We’ve gathered all sorts of dreamers and innovators here this summer,” says Mary Lou Aleskie, executive director of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas. “These are the people who are shaping our world and imagining our future. This can be seen in everything from the artistic innovations of Tom Morris and Handspring Puppet Company, whose ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ opens the festival, to the brilliant minds of scientists, business leaders, and thinkers gathered for our ideas program. We hope that our audience will join us and be inspired to dream new worlds for themselves as well.”

Celebrating city neighborhoods

Before the festival opens, there will be a more locally oriented event,  “Celebrate Our Fair Haven,” on Saturday, June 8, 2-8 p.m. at Christopher Columbus Academy, 255 Blatchley Ave. Featured at the event — which is free and open to the public — will be a traveling, pop-up pavilion designed and built by students at the Yale School of Architecture for the International Festival of Arts & Ideas. Visitors will be able to interact with the whimsical structure through audio-visual components.

Other offerings include performances by local artists and activities for children. Aaron Jafferis, a Fair Haven resident and librettist for the new musical “Stuck Elevator” (which will be performed at Long Wharf Theatre as part of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas), has organized performances of poetry and work from The Forum Theatre as part of “Celebrate Our Fair Haven,” which will also feature performances from community groups, sports clinics, and more.

Festival highlights

Grammy Award-winning soul and rhythm-and-blues vocalist Aaron Neville
Grammy Award-winning soul and rhythm-and-blues vocalist Aaron Neville

The International Festival of Arts and Ideas will open at 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 15 with a free concert on the New Haven Green featuring Grammy Award-winning soul and rhythm-and-blues vocalist Aaron Neville. Other festival highlights include:

• A new production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” from the creators of the international sensation “War House,” in an exclusive Northeast U.S. engagement for summer 2013;

• Presentations of “Sequence 8” by the Canadian circus arts company Les 7 doights de la main (7 Fingers), who are represented this year in the new Broadway production of “Pippin”;

• The premiere of a new work by acclaimed Indian Kuchipudi dancer Shantala Shivalingappa;

• Performances of the new hip-hop musical “Stuck Elevator,” with music co-written by New Haven native Aaron Jafferis;

• High-flying acrobat and noted circus artist David Dimitri in his one-man show “L’homme Cirque”;

• A free concert featuring the Kronos Quartet with Chinese pipa player Wu Man, who was named Musical America’s 2012 musician of the year;

 • A staging of “Freewheelers” — about the uncanny collision of bicycle history and corset making in the city of New Haven — by the award-winning New Haven ensemble company A Broken Umbrella Theatre.

• A performance by the Tuscon band Calexico and Afro-Peruvian singer-songwriter Susana Baca, winner of two Latin Grammy Awards.

Events at or with Yale

A new production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” from the creators of the international sensation “War House.”
A new production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” from the creators of the international sensation “War House.”

Many festival events will take place on the campus or involve Yale collaborations. Among these are:

• The world premiere of “My Friend’s Story,” a new operatic work based on an Anton Chekhov short story, created by Yale composer Martin Bresnik; librettist and Yale Review editor J.D. McClatchy; and director and Yale School of Drama faculty member David Chambers. During the festival, there will also be open rehearsal readings of new works of music theater at the Yale Institute for Music Theatre, a workshop residency program at the Yale School of Drama.

• A conversation between outgoing Yale President Richard C. Levin and outgoing New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. titled “New Haven and Yale: Dreaming New Worlds Together”;

• The musical ensemble Le Train Bleu’s performance of John Luther Adams’ “songbirdsongs” at Marsh Botanical Gardens;

• A performance by Yale Choral Artists of Rachmaninoff’s “All-Night Vigil”;

• Screenings of documentaries on African-American history by Spike Lee and Sam Pollard, and conversations with both directors, at the Whitney Humanities Center;

• The intimate theatrical experience “The Quiet Volume,” conceived by Ant Hampton and Tim Etchells — about books, reading, and the communal experience of the library and featuring two members of the audiences participating in one-hour performances each half hour at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

• A concert featuring bassist Christian McBride and Inside Straight at Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Memorial Hall;

• A musical show by Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino, one of Italy’s leading and longest-standing traditional music ensembles, at the University Theatre;

• Lectures throughout the festival at the Yale University Art Gallery, exploring such issues as “the changing face of race in America”; cooperation; enhancing collaborations in the arts and sciences; the correlation between innovation and economic prosperity; reinterpretations of Shakespeare; how networked cities can help solve global problems; challenges of the American workforce; and the politics of food, among others. Guests include singers Aaron Neville and Rosanne Cash; authors and professors Richard Sennett and Marion Nestle; former Yale Chaplain Frederick J. Streets; science writer and journalist Carl Zimmer; author and research scholar Benjamin Barber, and author and researcher Joshua Foer;

• Exhibition tours and gallery talks throughout the festival at the Yale University Art Gallery and Peabody Museum of Natural History

Some festival events are ticketed, while others are free. For a full schedule of events and to buy tickets, visit the festival website.

Yale is a major sponsor of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, which is also sponsored by the State of Connecticut, First Niagara Bank, the Community Foundation of Greater New Haven, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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