We’re well into Black History Month now, and civil rights play a major theme in this week’s arts events. The issue transcends race, time and place, with a docudrama about the Polish secret police investigating a theater troupe, a documentary about a prosecutor for International Criminal Court, a classic ‘70s film about witchburning, a tribute to local labor leader, and the depiction of a famous former slave from the late 19th century.
There’s also some amazing music to be found in town this week, from Mahler and Steve Reich to Mission Zero and Simple Pleasure.
Monday, Feb. 17
School vacation means “Dinosaur Days” at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History (170 Whitney Ave.). Which in turn means daily 11 a.m. puppet shows by Betty Baisden featuring her furry time-traveling protagonist Roxi Fox. Roxi Fox and the Dinosaurs plays Monday through Wednesday; on Thursday and Friday it’s Roxi’s Quest for the Torosaurus. The shows fit neatly with the new Peabody exhibit Tiny Titans: Dinosaur Eggs and Babies. Free with museum admission. (203) 432-5050.
Santala and the Singer-Songwriters
Kriss Santala hosts the Singer-Songwriter and Open Mic series at Three Sheets (where Elm Bar and “the old Rudy’s” used to be at 372 Elm St.). Full sets by celebrated Chapel Street busker Jeffery Metzger, Stephany Brown, “Lonesome Billy” Calash of the band Torque, and Sean Conlon. That’s good for a couple of hours, and then the open mic kicks in at 11 p.m.
Tuesday, Feb. 18
Court and Spark
The Court is a documentary which unfurls “in the style of a courtroom thriller.” It follows Luis Moreno-Ocampo, a prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, as he investigates war crimes, navigates complex legal obstacles and attempts to “break the cycle of intrastate retaliation and revenge and replace it with legal sanctions.” The Court is screened at 7 p.m. in Yale’s Luce Hall (34 Hillhouse Ave.) as part of the Jackson Institute Documentary Film Series. Luis Moreno-Ocampo himself will introduce the screening. Free.
The endearing and talented Seth Adams hosts the open mic at Stella Blues (204 Crown St., 203-752-9764). Sign-up begins at 8 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 19
The Screening Of Our Discontent
The Yale Program in Iranian Studies, the Council on Middle East Studies and PIER Outreach at the MacMillan Center are holding an “Iran Colloquium” 6 p.m. in the university’s Luce Hall auditorium (34 Hillhouse Ave.). The panel discussion, with film scholar Jamsheed Akrami and Yale history prof Abbas Amanat, is preceded by a screening of Akrami’s documentary A Cinema of Discontent: Film Censorship in Iran. Free.
Miles to Go
The Long Wharf Theater (222 Sargent Dr.) begins performances of Amy Herzog’s 4000 Miles tonight on the theater’s mainstage. Herzog studied playwriting at the Yale School of Drama, and the Yale Rep world-premiered her modern –marriage thriller Belleville a couple of years ago; that show is now enjoying an extended run at New York Theatre Workshop. 4000 Miles, about a wandering West Coast youth bonding unexpectedly with his old-radical grandmother, had two successful runs in New York and now has become popular at regional theaters around the country. This production is directed by the Long Wharf’s Associate Artistic Director Eric Ting, and stars Zoaunne LeRoy, MicahStock, Leah Karpel and recent Yale School of Drama grad Teresa Avia Lim. (Click here for Allan Appel’s preview interview with the director.)
Cheap Time is a lo-fi rock threesome from Tennessee. They headline a virtual neo-garage-punk festival tonight for free at BAR (254 Crown St.). Five bands in all: the glam-influenced Cheapt Time, New Haven’s own inspired thudding wailers Estrogen Highs, the loud all-female punk trio Narcisister, Worn Leather (featuring former members of Dead Uncles and Iron Hand), plus SWAY spinning records in between. 9 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 20
The Devils With It
The Yale Institute of Sacred Music is screening Ken Russell’s 1971 witchcraft drama The Devils (based loosely on an Aldous Huxley book, and starring Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave). 8 p.m. at the Whitney Humanities Center (53 Wall St.). Free.
A new weekly series began last week at Jokers Wild Comedy Club (232 Wooster St.): “Free Comedy Thursday.” That title should be self-explanatory. Three or four comics from the New England or Tri-State comedy circuit are enlisted to make the impecunious audience laugh.
Friday, Feb. 21
Opening the Files
When the Polish political theater troupe Teatr Osmego Dnia (Theatre of the Eighth Day) last visited Yale in 2009, it presented an original-cast recreation of Wormwood, its 1985 piece about martial law which led to the company’s exile from Poland. Feb. 20-22 at 8 p.m. in Yale’s Iseman Theater (1156 Chapel St.), Teatre Osmego Dnia is doing The Files, a multi-media piece based on the real-life government surveillance the troupe endured in the late 1970s and early ‘80s. Teatr Osmego Dnia’s work is fast-moving, physical, abrasive… and should remarkably easy to follow, considering that The Files (unlike Wormwood) will be performed here in English.
Jean Genet’s The Maids is an experimental theater classic from the 1940s, taking a real life crime and making it the dramatic center for a study of class, society, gender roles, modern morality and what theater itself means. Dustin Wills (who directed the recent Yale School of Drama production of Peter Pan, and led the 2013 Yale Summer Cabaret season) helms this Yale Cabaret production, tonight and tomorrow at 8 & 11 p.m. at 217 Park St. $20, $10 students; food and drink available.
Saturday, Feb. 22
Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House
Actress Stephanie Jackson portrays Elizabeth Keckly, the slave who became a civil rights activist, not to mention Mary Todd Lincoln’s fashion consultant. It’s a special Black History Month event 3 p.m. at the Main (Ives) New Haven Free Public Library (133 Elm St.).
Several Yale classical institutions—the Yale Camerata, the Yale Symphony Orchestra and the Yale Glee Club—converge for a performance of Mahler’s Second Symphony, 8 p.m. at Woolsey Hall (500 College St.). (203) 432-5062.
Trapp and Bass
Uncertainty Music Series concerts aren’t so much uncertain as erratically scheduled. There’s one tonight at 7 p.m. at Fair Haven Furniture (72 Blatchley Ave.) featuring contemporary classical music by composer/horn player Rachel Devorah Trapp and the double bass duo PascAli (namely Pascal Niggenkemper and Sean Ali). That much is certain. There is a suggested donation of $5-$10.
From Zero to Simple
Two outrageous and theatrically inclined local bands enliven Café Nine (250 State St.) tonight. Mission Zero is the sibling rock combo of Megan and David Keith (she’s played lead roles in New Haven Theater Company Shows; he’s in a band with metal great Ritchie Blackmore). The Simple Pleasure is the fun-loving glam/dance/punk trio fronted by Yale School of Drama grad Chad Raines, who composed songs for the current Yale Rep production of The Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls and spent last year touring with Amanda Palmer of The Dresden Dolls. 9 p.m. $5.
Sunday, Feb. 23
Of The People’s Center
The People’s World is hosting an African American History Month event 4 p.m. at the New Haven Peoples Center (37 Howe St.), paying tribute to union activist and community leader Craig Gautier, showing the documentary short Free Angela and All Political Prisoner awarding arts prizes to local high school students. Drummer Brian Jarawa Gray also performs. $5 “or pay what you can.” (203) 624-8664.
The Yale Percussion Group tackles Steve Reich’s Sextet, that mindblowing 28-minute-long marimba/vibes/bass drum/crotales/ tam-ta work-out, 8 p.m. in Yale’s Morse Recital Hll (470 College St.), along with pieces by Steven Mackey and Toru Takemitsu. Free. (203) 432-4158.
Not Over It.
Evan Weiss played in this area just a couple months ago, with the indie all-star act Their/They’re/There at The Space in Hamden. Weiss returns tonight to a bigger room, Toad’s Place (300 York St.) with his best-known band, Into It. Over It, which just started a three-month national tour. Earlier this month the band appeared on Carson Daly’s late-night show. The new Into It. Over It. album is called Intersections. The long, multi-band bill also includes such long-named bands as The World is a Beautiful Place…, and A Great Big Pile of Leaves, plus Old Gray and Ovlov. 5 p.m.