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Stage Notes Connecticut Theater News & Reviews

Golfing For Hartford Stage; 'Beneath The Gavel' Pounds New York

Hartford Stage has a new fundraising event: a golf tournament. The first Hartford Stage Open will be held Sept. 24 at Hartford’s Keney Park Golf Club. Proceeds benefit Hartford Stage’s artistic and education programs. The golfers get food and drink from area businesses including Hog River Brewing Co. and Bakery on Main, a dinner reception at The Tavern at Keney Park, raffle prizes and more. The winner’s trophy is being created by the Hartford Stage scene shop artists. (The Hartford Courant is among the tournament’s sponsors.) Details at 860-520-7241, jlevine@hartfordstage.org.

‘Gavel’ Still A Hit

Bated Breath Theatre’s audacious immersive art auction performance piece “Beneath the Gavel” premiered in 2016 at the New Britain Museum of American Art. The gavel has continued to bang in New York City, where the show played 59E59 last year and will next be seen Sept. 14 at Feinstein’s/54 Below. The multimedia show’s writer/director (and Bated Breath founder/artistic director) Mara Lieberman says the company has maintained a studio space in the Bushwick area of Brooklyn for a while now, but hasn’t forsaken Hartford, where “we’re still working with arts organizations there, and we have a couple of projects on the assembly line.” Bated Breath still maintains a Hartford studio at City Arts on Pearl.

Lieberman recently received a $5,000 Artist Fellowshop Excellence Award from the Connecticut Office of the Arts. She will use it to travel to Bordeaux, France, to research a new “interactive wine-tasting play.”

“Beneath the Gavel” has changed considerably since it waved its brushes in New Britain. “I’ve completely rewritten it for each space,” she says. “It’s remade for each specific venue and interest.” Several actors have remained with the show for each of its iterations, including popular Hartford performer Debra Walsh and former Christie’s auctioneer Barbara Strongin.

The 54 Below booking is “an interesting partnership,” Lieberman says, “because it deviates from their normal programming” — the venue is best known for cabaret concerts — “and also is different for us.” “Beneath the Gavel” was originally devised to be performed in galleries, and is being rethought for the 54 Below’s more traditional stage area.

In Brooklyn, Bated Breath has been running a physical theater training center and has assembled a “devising ensemble.” Using the “Viewpoints” techniques developed by famed director Anne Bogart, Bated Breath runs a series called “Viewpoints &…,” which develops theatrical responses to gallery shows.

“We’re getting clearer about what our particular niche is,” Lieberman says. “We’re helping others understand how American theater is changing.”

Where Are They Now?

Remember how “Age of Innocence” at Hartford Stage was a co-production with the McCarter Theatre in New Jersey? Well, the show is at the McCarter Sept. 7 through Oct. 7 with nearly the same cast as when it premiered in Hartford back in April. Only one of the main players has changed: Joseph Adams is playing the multiple roles (including Julius Beaufort) that Nick Wyman handled in Hartford. Even several of the supporting ensemble members, drawn from the University of Hartford’s Hartt School, are the same. When the McCarter’s production of “Murder on the Orient Express” came to Hartford last season, nearly a year after it played New Jersey, there were a couple of big cast changes, including the actor who starred as Hercule Poirot.

Theresa Rebeck, the prolific playwright whose “The Understudy” was just at Westport Country Playhouse and who has had her plays done at Hartford Stage and Long Wharf, has a new show on Broadway (“Bernhardt/Hamlet,” starring Janet McTeer) and a new TV series in the works (the gaming comedy “It’s a Man’s World,” greenlit for a pilot by YouTube.

Dipika Guha, who graduated from Yale School of Drama in 2010 (where her play “Passing” was part of the school’s Carlotta Festival) and who now writes for the TV series “Sneaky Pete,” is one of six Los Angeles-based playwrights in a new residency program at L.A.’s Geffen Playhouse. Called “The Writer’s Room” and committed to “fostering bold, relevant work by the vibrant artistic community of Los Angeles, the inaugural group of six playwrights also includes Angelica Chéri, whose musical “Gun & Powder” was workshopped at Goodspeed, and Matt Schatz, whose “The Burdens” had a reading at The O’Neill Theater Center’s 2016 National Playwright’s Conference.

Yale School of Drama Shows

The three main Yale School of Drama productions of the 2018-19 season will be: “shakespeare’s as u like it,” adapted by Emma Weinstein and Michael Breslin, directed by Weinstein, Oct. 23-27; “Seven Spots on the Sun” by Martin Zimmerman, directed by Jecamiah Ybañez, Dec. 13-18; and Alice Childress’ “Trouble in Mind,” directed by Aneesha Kudtarkar, Feb. 2-8.

The YSD shows are thesis projects for directors in the final year of their graduate program. They have often been pet projects of talented young artists who make the most of the budgets and other resources available to them. The shows are designed and acted by YSD students who’ve been working alongside each other in shows for a while, including at the student-run experimental space The Yale Cabaret.

Besides the three shows in the “Yale School of Drama Series” (for which tickets are on sale starting Sept. 4), the YSD has public performances of its Shakespeare Repertory Project. Again, these productions feature student directors, actors and designers. (The middle year of the three-year School of Drama program is devoted to Shakespeare and other classical verse projects.) This year the Shakespeare shows are: “Othello,” directed by Kat Yen, Feb. 7-9; “The Tempest,” directed by Danilo Gambini, March 7-9; and “Henry VI, Part 3, April 11-13.

Details at drama.yale.edu.

Trinity Theater

Fall theater events at Trinity College’s Austin Arts Center include:

Sept. 23: Ensemble Origo recreating a celebratory Mass from the early 16th century, to mark the 500th anniversary of the death of composer Pierre de la Rue.

Oct. 18-20: The Department of Music presents a multidisciplinary concert with a topical theme, “Huddled Masses: Stories of Immigration and Hope.”

Nov. 8-10: “Somewhere (Something Incredible),” directed by Mitch Polin.

Nov. 30 and Dec. 1: The Fall Dance Concert.

Dec. 9: The 60th annual Christmas Festival of Lessons and Carols.

Dec. 10: “Winter Brew” dance concert.

Dec. 12: Showcase of students in the intensive program that Trinity runs with New York’s celebrated La Mama theater company.

From Mass to huddled masses, to Christmas. Some season. Details at 860-297-2199, trincoll.edu/Arts/Pages/AustinArtsCenter.aspx

Cirque Dreams At Oakdale

“Circus theater” or “new circus” shows have always been welcome in Connecticut, from back when the genre was first growing in the 1980s. Latest circus incursion: Cirque Dreams’ “Holidaze” will be at the Oakdale in Wallingford for four shows Dec. 14-16, a festive month for the venue which also features Moscow Ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker” Dec. 1 and pop genius Brian Wilson’s live rendition of “The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album” Dec. 8.

Cirque Dreams’ “Jungle Fantasy” was at Mohegan Sun in August, and “Cirque Dreams Revealed” was at the casino in March. “Holidaze” details are at 203-265-1501, oakdale.com.

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