You’d think a half week of school vacation and a holiday on which we’re expected to stay home with family might put on a damper on nightlife activities in town this week. But this is New Haven, and we don’t let Thanksgiving keep us from getting out and exploring a community that’s a zillion times more culturally diverse than Plymouth, Mass., was in 1621.
Following are some suggestions for arts happenings to hit.
Monday, Nov. 25
The annual Fantasy of Lights at Lighthouse Point Park involves illuminated holiday-themed artworks spaced out along the beach, easily viewable from the warmth of your car. This quirky and beloved tradition of driving past lit-up Christmas treats while listening to carols piped through your car radio, opened last Friday and lights up Lighthouse Point Sundays through Thursdays from 5 to 9 p.m. and Fridays & Saturdays from 5-10 p.m. through Dec. 31. It’s presented by Easter Seals Goodwill Industries, with the various light displays sponsored by a host of local businesses. This year’s Fantasy of Lights is enhanced by new 3-D glasses, available for $2 per pair. Admission is $10 for a car or van, $25 for a mini-bus or $50 for a full-size bus. How much for a sleigh, huh?
Tuesday, Nov. 26
To the Mats
The Fair Haven branch of New Haven Free Public Library is having a Harvest Festival. No, they’re not threshing the lawn outside the building. They’re inviting thankful folks of all ages to create “Thanksgiving-themed placemats out of all nature-based materials.” You know, so the food harvest won’t get your table messy. 4 p.m. 182 Grand Avenue, New Haven. (203) 946-8115.
Smoke ‘Em if You Got ‘Em
Smoker’s Club is a multi-band hip-hop/rap/stoner tour of up-and-coming talent. Odds are that more than a couple of these acts visiting Toad’s Place en masse tonight will be selling millions of records before long. Brooklyn-based headliner Joey Bada$$ of the Pro Era collective has already made big waves with a series of sought-after mixtapes, and is due to release his debut album this winter. Also on the bill: Ab-Soul, The Underachievers, Chevy Woods, A Mafia, Cashius Green, Uiie-P., Minty Burns and Pacc Mahn. $25, $22 in advance. (203) 624-TOAD.
Wednesday, Nov. 27
Local pop guitarist Dean Falcone’s Thanksgiving Vomitorium has been moved forward a day, to Thanksgiving Eve this year. The annual cover-tune bash, involving a host of New Haven music scene stalwarts, plus guest stars who’ve come home for the holiday, has been regurgitating thanksgiving cheer since the mid-‘90s, when it grew out of shambolic jam sessions at the Black Seal in Mystic and the old Rudy’s Bar & Grill on Elm Street. Café Nine has been the Vomitorium’s proud host now for over a decade. Expect sing-alongs, power pop riffs, renewed friendships and at least one Lou Reed cover. 250 State Street, (203) 789-8281.
Fences Make Good Playwrights
August Wilson originally developed his play Fences at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut. The festival’s director, Lloyd Richard, gave Fences its world premiere at the Yale Repertory Theatre in 1985. In ’87, it opened on Broadway and won a Tony and a Pulitzer. A national tour brought it back to New Haven, where it played the Shubert. Now, a quarter-century later, the Long Wharf Theatre gets a crack at this searing drama about a former baseball star (from the days before African-Americans could play in the major leagues) and his concern that his football-playing son will have to endure the same racial discrimination he did. Fences is directed by Phylicia Rashad, the Cosby Show co-star who helmed a production of Raisin in the Sun at the Westport Playhouse a couple of seasons ago. None of the members of the cast have performed at the Long Wharf before. Fences has a week of “previews” tonight through Dec. 3, an opening night (with post-show reception) on Dec. 4, and runs through Dec. 15. (203) 787-4282.
Thursday, Nov. 28
Turkey and Electronica
You won’t find much open today. Institutions as far-flung as Café Nine, New Haven Museum and Yale University are all taking the day off. Something about pilgrims, we hear. But all is not quiet downtown: the comfy Stella Blues (204 Crown Street, 203-752-9764) has a special Thanksgiving Night live-music feast of electronica/pop from The Orator, F.L.O.T.E. (free downloads of whole albums available here), Shmallen (who built their track “Do It to Me Again” out of a sick sample from “Love to Love Ya Baby”) and DJ Norrin.
Friday, Nov. 29
Hot on the sequined heels of Mamma Mia, which toured through town last week, the Shubert (247 College Street, New Haven; 203-562-5666) is hosting another bed-spinning, life-altering pop-culture classic: A Christmas Carol. The nationally touring Nebraska Theatre Caravan adaptation of Charles Dickens’ spirited nightmare-before-Christmas has been visiting the Shubert for decades, but didn’t come last year and was much missed. It’s an upbeat, family-friendly version which is unlikely to scare children—only Scrooges. Four performances: Friday at 7:30 .m., Saturday at 2 & 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. $18.40-$54.60.
Joker’s Wild (232 Wooster Street, New Haven) settles your stomach with a special Day After Thanksgiving Comedy Night, featuring Dave Moon Sr., Rich Cyr, Ryan Shanahan, Brian Plumb, Ryan Maloney, Kevin Dolan, Edward Seward and Danny Mahar. To recap, that’s two Ryans, a Brian, a Dolan and four other funny guys, all for $20. 10:30 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 30
Death by Comedy
Accidental Death of an Anarchist is an unfettered political farce about defenestration, revolution and government corruption. It’s the best-known work by Dario Fo, the internationally renowned radical Socialist and satirist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1997. In one of the rare times that he was granted a visa to perform in the United States, Fo (and his equally talented wife Franca Rame, who died earlier this year) appeared at the Yale Rep in 1986, and returned there in ’87 to direct his royal travesty Almost by Chance a Woman: Elizabeth. Accidental Death of an Anarchist (which begins previews tonight at the Rep tonight, opens next Thursday and runs through Dec. 21) is directed by Christopher Bayes and stars Steven Epp—the guys who brought wacky versions of The Servant of Two Masters and A Doctor in Spite of Himself to the Rep in recent years. Tickets range from $52-$78, depending on what night you go.
Sunday, Dec. 1
Before it became World AIDS Day, Dec. 1 was known as A Day Without Art. Galleries would be open, but would cover the artwork with sheets and shrouds in honor of all the people in the arts world who’d been silenced by AIDS. It’s still a fine day to reflect on the great artists and creative spirits we’ve lost. Today is World AIDS Day, but the local commemoration will be happening in the days ahead: free Rapid HIV Testing on Dec. 2 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Gateway Community College Community Room (20 Church Street) and Dec. 3 from noon to 3 p.m. in the Southern Connecticut State University Student Center (501 Crescent Street), then the New Haven Mayor’s Task Force on AIDS is holding its 25th Annual World AIDS Day Commemoration, with the theme “Getting to Zero” (“Zero new infections, zero discrimination, zero AIDS-related deaths) on Dec. 6 at 11:30 a.m. inside United Church on the Green. But today, just reflect.
If a Tree Falls…
Since it is no longer required to honor World AIDS Day by covering up art, there’s a notable public art piece being unveiled today that some will surely use to memorialize friends and family who’ve passed away. Through the Trees, organized by Nicholas Pfaff and Hannah Plotki, is a grove of “fabricated and reconstructed bare trees” begging to be decorated by the public at large. This interactive artwork is specifically designed to “memorialize, remember and honor those we have lost to violence in our community.” Besides the contributions of passersby, the curators are working with public school students to create additional remembrances. Through the Trees grows in The Lot (Artspace’s outdoor exhibition space near the corner of Chapel and Temple, by the bus stop) throughout December. http://artspacenh.org