Friday, September 29, 2006

Lunar Landings

Yale Rep

I hit the road last night to take in a show at Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut. (Courtesy of a comp ticket from them.)

Seeing a show there has always been one of the things I have been meaning to do...for about the last 10 years. Really.

It was actually quite easy; I spent about 3 hours on the road down to New Haven. However, I was blessed with very little traffic on the Mass Turnpike and in the Hartford environs.

I have lived for many years in the Harvard Square area, but Yale has always struck me as the college town. The concentration of those stone, cathedralesque buildings, archways and spires is formidable, but in a strange way meditative and peaceful. That is, of course, if that is your taste. (I'm a graduate of Boston College, so I may have been experiencing a little nostalgia for Gasson, Devlin, Fulton and Lyons.)

I was able to find street parking on a meter very quickly, and headed over to the theatre. I had enough time for an enjoyable fall walk through the quads and finally arriving at the Yale Rep, which, (for all its history,) is in a surprisingly unassuming little church building tucked onto a corner.

Probably the best introduction to the history of the Yale Rep and the Drama School would be Robert Brustein's chronicle of his years at the helm. Making Scenes is out of print, but if you can find it in the library, or if you can pick up a cheap copy via the internet, it is well worth the read. (Henry Winkler playing Shakespeare. Meryl Streep terrified to pull out of a production of The Father starring an obsessed and overly methodized Rip Torn, for fear of upsetting him.)

Agree with Brustein's crititicisms or not, what makes Scenes an invigorating read is that he is so damn passionate. In his battle to establish this legendary artistic insitution, he makes mistakes, regroups, attacks again, makes compromises for larger goals, and tries to hold to aesthetic standards during a very turbulent time. There is no doubt that there is a bit of score settling on the table, but... omelets and broken eggs as the saying goes.

With all the recent talk in the blogoshpere of New York Centrism, it was interesting to visit what some would consider a strong satellite. Yale Rep and the School of Drama are probably as close as one can get to monolithic in the realm of Regional Theatre and Theatre Education.

I was there to see Sarah Ruhl's Eurydice, which I will write a little bit more about later.

(Photo by T. Charles Erickson)

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