The fluorescent overhead lights were still on in Collective Consciousness Theater, in Erector Square. Actor Terrence Riggins was seated at a desk on the set for The Mountaintop. Fellow actor Malia West was standing in front of him. Neither of them were in costume yet, and West had a decidedly anachronistic plastic water in her hand. But as soon as Riggins and West fell into character, running through a scene late in the play, their voices changed, taking on a stronger Southern accent. Their body language shifted. They became the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Camae, a maid at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn. It was 1968, and it was King’s last night on earth, and in The Mountaintop, he was working on a speech.
It’s partially covered in deep snow now, but when the southern section of the seawall along the Quinnipiac River and its adjoining scenic walkway reappear in the springtime, there should be grounds for local celebration in Fair Haven.
“I’m going to fight like hell and will do everything in my power to stand up for you and your families,” U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy told a room full of young people in Fair Haven who fear an incoming president may kick them out of the country. “You are American and you are a part of the fabric of this country.”
The city plans to sell four vacant lots to a not-for-profit in town at $1,000 a pop so affordable houses can be erected on three of them and an open community space maintained on the fourth.
The city turned around and became a purchaser, buying yet another vacant lot, for a buck. The plan is to sell it for a modest amount so another affordable house can be erected on it in the not too distant future.
As a student clutching a doll-sized viola ambled up three steps to the Fair Haven School Stage, a hush fell on the auditorium. Students, smiling in their pressed white shirts and miniature stringed instruments, snapped to attention. About 60 pairs of eyes followed Gregory Tompkins as he lifted his hands to his violin, bobbing just slightly, and nodded on cue.
Eleven-year-old José Sarango has been to a fair number of concerts in his young life in New Haven. A member of the All-City Honors Ensemble, he’d been exposed to big-name composers like Aaron Copland, Jean Sibelius, Beethoven, and Mozart, all before his 10th birthday.
But never had he heard how Alexander Borodin’s Symphony No. 2 in B Minor approximated folk music, early jazz, and work songs at its best moments.
Or received a free book about that tradition, tracing the work of 19th-century composers to Troy Andrews, known more widely as “Trombone Shorty,” wielding his horn through the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans.