If the giggles and gasps I heard Thursday night from both adults and young children — often in unison — in Yale’s University Theatre is any indication, A Billion Nights on Earth is that rare thing: an evening of theatre for children that is not children’s theatre. Rather than a brightly colored cartoon story with enough double entendres to keep the parents awake, creator and director Thaddeus Phillips has taken the braver step of reminding us adults that we are at our best when we are like our children. Although the evening he has crafted lasts a scant hour and holds a trifle of a plot, it is designed, like a vivid dream, to linger long after it ends.
For teenager Chai’s birthday, his girlfriend Caryn is getting him something unusual: a new name.
She knows Chai doesn’t like his name, his full name, so behind his back she does some crowdfunding and raises the money — over $2,000 — to legally make the change.
One thing, though: Chai doesn’t know what to change it to. Another thing: Caryn doesn’t even know why Chai doesn’t like his name, or what it will do to his small nuclear family if he tries to change it.
An iconic local theater was led for over a decade by a “big personality” whose personal charisma and artistic success made him “too big to be held accountable” for his rampant sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace.
Cliff Bradshaw (Nate Houran) has just interrupted his love interest, Sally Bowles (Jay Eddy), canoodling with another man. She storms offstage and Cliff moves to follow her. He’s stopped by Ernst (Jeremy Funke), who wants to make a deal with him. Cliff wants no part of it. Ernst is a little confused, but not thrown off his game.
“I know you need the money,” he says, “so it must be something else. Ah — that Jew at the party?”
That’s when Cliff hits Ernst, landing a punch right in his stomach.
Azhar Ahmed fled the war in Sudan in 2004. For a decade she lived with her husband in Cairo, working as a teacher and applying for refugee status in the United States. In June 2015 she and her husband finally arrived in New Haven. Her son was born six months ago, in a friend’s house.
“You have to start from the beginning,” she said, of her experience of arriving in the United States.
On the stage of Mauro-Sheridan Interdistrict Magnet School on Tuesday, Isabella Violante Fletcher, Jayliz Freeney, Nehima Bell, and Chidimma Nzekwe —better known as Mustardseed, Peaseblossom, Cobweb, and Moth in their costumes — were chanting about animals.
“Spotted snakes with double tongues, thorny hedgehogs be not seen. Newts and bloodworms do no wrong. Come not near our fairy queen.” They sang it to the tune of Brahms’s famous lullaby. In the middle of them was Zyana Campbell, or Titania, who sank slowly into slumber. One of the fairies stood guard, until Martin Duff as Oberon shooed her away.
He knelt down and cast his own spell to work some of the mischief that fuels A Midsummer NIght’s Dream — the eighth annual Shakespeare production at Mauro-Sheridan, put together by a deep collaboration among Jodi Schneider of Mauro-Sheridan, the education program at Elm Shakespeare Company, Hopkins School, and most important, a cadre of game, hardworking, and talented fifth- to eighth-graders at Mauro-Sheridan.
It’s fitting that Neil Simon’s Rumors — playing May 16 to May 19 at the New Haven Theater Company on Chapel Street — effectively starts with a slamming door. Before that is a brief, frantic conversation between Chris Gorman (Jenny Schuck) and her husband Ken (Peter Chenot). Chris is dressed in an evening gown. Ken has blood on his tuxedo shirt.
“He’s bleeding like crazy,” Ken says.
“Oh my God!” Chris says.
“It’s all over the room,” Ken says. “I don’t know why people decorate in white.”
Who gets to enact the story of someone else’s suffering? Is it worthwhile to enact situations you have no knowledge of, through belief in some common, shared existential state? Global citizens, denizens of the internet, aren’t we free to access whatever speaks to us?
The daughter of an evangelist must come to terms with her own faith and doubt while traveling on the revival circuit in the Great Plains in Majkin Holmquist’s Tent Revival. The aftermath of a rape is depicted for both the assailant’s mother and the victim in Genne Murphy’s The Girl is Chained. Recidivism within a Philadelphia family occurs in a span from the 1980s’ crack epidemic to today’s opioid crisis in Josh Wilder’s Marty and the Hands that Could.