Tuesday, April 5, 2016


Do you fancy yourself a little trip to Scotland in the midst of a blizzard?  The International Festival of Arts and Ideas would dearly like to sell you a ticket…no passport or packing required.  The Festival, an unbelievable 21 years old, will take place from June 10-25, a well stuffed gift to New Haven and the surrounding communities.

Imagine a feast or banquet laid out before you and being given a chance to taste a hearty appetizer, in this case a bite of Scottish brogue.  Lucky souls got to experience an afternoon or evening of special fare with the National Theatre of Scotland’s original tale “The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart" at Yale University’s Gryphon’s Pub at 204 York Street in New Haven from March 30 to April 2.

Created by David Greig and directed by Wils Wilson, this intriguing musical adventure has sold out across Scotland, the United Kingdom and internationally, and now it was part and parcel of the Festival for audiences to enjoy recently.  Folks came to whet their whistle with a wee dram of whiskey, courtesy of Benromach Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whiskey.  Your feet and imagination flew as Annie Grace, Jessica Hardwick, Alastair Macrae and David McKay fired up their fiddles and bagpipes to tell the tale of Prudencia Hart, a scholar who was enamored with ballads of the Scottish Borders and set out to deliver a paper at a conference.

Through no fault of her own, the primly proper professor finds herself the victim of a snowstorm and, quicker than you can say “border ballads are neither borders nor ballads” was in a whole whale of a predicament.  Clad in a green velvet cape, she eschews the help of a colleague named Colin to solve her own logistics problem, only to become the fixation of an underworld creature known as Satan. How Prudencia seals her fate, with clever maneuvering and ingenious plots adds to the story’s charms. 

For this year’s offering the National Theatre of Scotland has a whole new event:  “Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour,” a U.S. premiere that introduces six Catholic schoolgirls competing in a singing contest in Edinburgh.  In a single day these lassies are exposed to love, lust, pregnancy and death, all with a background of 1970’s pop rock tunes.

The opening day of the Festival, Friday, June 10, the Yale Repertory Theatre will start the party with dinner and drinks, the play, and ending with dancing and karaoke at the post-show reception. The musical will also be held, with post-show discussions, on Saturdays, June 11 and 18 and Tuesdays, June 14 and 21.

Adapted by Lee Hall, from the novel “The Sopranos” by Alan Warner, directed by Vicky Featherstone, in collaboration with Live Theatre, Newcastle, “Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour” is but one of the highlights of this iconic gift to the New Haven community.  Be prepared for some funky Rhythm and Blues from George Clinton, acrobatic gyrations from Cirque Mechanics, walking and biking tours, family fun, food tastings, master classes, films, lectures, concerts on the green, dance and so much more.  Go to artidea.org or call 203-498-3772 for more information.

Welcome to the Festival 21 and take part in all of the fancy festivities, 80% of which are free.  Celebrate the world right here in your own backyard.

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