A Festival That Caters to Body and Mind
(6/3/2010) (From The New York Times)
By ANITA GATES
YOU could hear Philip Glass play piano solos next Sunday night at Sprague Memorial Hall in New Haven. You could see Conor Lovett (of Gare St. Lazare Players Ireland) do “Moby-Dick” as a one-man show at the Long Wharf Theater the following week. You could, on various days, take a tour of artworks by Connecticut’s own Sol LeWitt. And on June 19, on New Haven Green, you could see a free concert by the Blind Boys of Alabama.
This year’s International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven, now in its 15th year, certainly cannot be accused of a lack of variety. And we haven’t even mentioned the film and dance events or the walking, food and bike tours. The Brewster estate at Edgerton Park, anyone? Fun with oysters, sushi or cocktails?
“I don’t think we’ve counted how many individual events there are, but there are hundreds,” Andrew Chatfield, the festival’s director of marketing and communication, said in a recent telephone interview.
According to Quinnipiac University surveys, last year’s festival brought in more than 100,000 visitors from 32 states, 18 countries and 121 Connecticut cities and towns. The free outdoor concerts tend to draw the largest crowds, Mr. Chatfield said. “But almost everything gets sold out, because a lot of the venues are very intimate. And the performance runs aren’t very long.”
Four pages of the festival’s 44-page brochure are devoted to what are specifically labeled Ideas events. They consist of nine conversations or panel discussions with notables like the Tony Award-winning choreographer Bill T. Jones and his biographer; the Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic Paul Goldberger; and the former Metropolitan Museum of Art director Philippe de Montebello, with two fellow art experts.
But there are also discussions after a number of other events, including the ones with Mr. Glass, the choreographer Lucinda Childs and the filmmaker Errol Morris. And all the Ideas events are free — or free with a ticket to the associated event before it. (Although you can pay $35 for an Ideas insider pass, which guarantees you a seat to all the events, in case they are full to overflowing.)
Naturally, the organizers encourage that sort of thing. Festival memberships start at $125, and the “see-everything pass” is $475. But about 80 percent of the events in the 15-day festival are free, and most of the others are reasonably priced. For example, visitors can see Andrew Dawson’s solo performance “Space Panorama,” the Palestrina Choir from Dublin or the musical theater piece “Stuck Elevator” (about a Chinese-food delivery man who won’t press the alarm button because he is an illegal immigrant) for $15 each.
The most expensive admissions are the top-tier tickets ($50) to Ms. Childs’s “Dance,” followed by $40 for the best seats at “Moby-Dick” and the theater work “Chautauqua!” But there are less expensive tickets to those events, and there are discounts on almost everything for seniors, students and children 17 and under. The most expensive ticket at the festival is for a sushi dinner ($65) billed as a foodie tour.
Mr. Chatfield said he was most excited about the opening-weekend events centered around the multi-genre “Dance,” with choreography by Ms. Childs, film by LeWitt (who died in 2007) and a soundtrack by Mr. Glass. “Just the collaboration, having a discussion about the creation of the work,” he said, “just exploring with that much depth.”
International Festival of Arts and Ideas, June 12 to 26, at various locations in New Haven. Information: Shubert Theater Box Office, 247 College Street; (203) 562-5666, (888) 736-2663 or artidea.org.
Follow this link for more information.