In the inauguration Humanity, a new monthly column focused on the arts and humanities at Yale, we celebrate the public’s return to the Yale Repertory Theater, preview a public art installation coming soon to New Haven, and meet two scholars who will engage in interesting activities off-campus activities: one is an academic exploring the power of visual storytelling and the other is spending a year in London exploring environmental justice. For more, please see the archive of all arts and humanities coverage on Yale News.
Raise the curtain! The public returns to Yale Rep
Last week, nearly two years after New Haven stages fell silent at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Yale Repertory Theater hosted members of the Yale community in person for a new production of “Today is My Birthday”.
Playwright Susan Soon He Stanton’s sly comedy ’10 MFA seems a particularly fitting choice for the times: it depicts the experience of a struggling writer whose life crumbles following a nasty breakup. , reflecting on how technology can both bring people together and drive them deeper into isolation.
Protagonist Emily Chang, played by Jeena Yi, fantasizes about an idyllic return after returning to O’ahu from Manhattan, but complications arise when she discovers how little she knows about the people she loves most – and how hard it is to let go. known to others.
“The play beautifully captures the loneliness and isolation we have all felt during the pandemic,” said Jennifer Kiger, Acting Artistic Director and Director of New Game Programs at Yale Rep. “It’s hilarious, funny and heartbreakingly true. Our audience has been so generous with their responses. Many said it was the best production they had seen at Yale Rep.
“Even more shared that they are deeply grateful to have the opportunity to return to acting.
Performances began Jan. 28 and ran through Feb. 19 at The Rep, 1120 Chapel St. While performances were initially only open to members of the Yale community, tickets are now available for members of the general public. All eligible ticket holders must show proof of vaccinations, including boosters, and wear masks throughout the show.
Yale Rep is simultaneously in rehearsal for a new production of “Choir Boy,” by Oscar-winning playwright-in-residence Tarell Alvin McCraney ’07 MFA, and preparing for “Between Two Knees,” by comedy sketch troupe the 1491.
“Making art to inspire joy, empathy and understanding in the world is central to the mission of Yale Repertory Theater and the David Geffen School of Drama,” Kiger said. “For us, our work isn’t truly done until we can share it with an audience. Coming back to the stage reminded us of our purpose. We saw how heartwarming and necessary it is to come together, to celebrate each other’s strengths and victories and to remember the beauty of the art of collaboration.
Coming soon: An installation weaves joy with music and light
During the recent holiday season, visitors to Manhattan’s Flatiron Public Plaza were dazzled by “Interwoven,” an interactive public artwork with Yale roots that celebrates the joy of crossing paths and making connections in public spaces.
The installation, winner of the eighth annual Flatiron Public Plaza holiday design competition, was created by design firm Atelier Cho Thompson (ACT), which has offices in New Haven and San Francisco. It is made up of intersecting arches of green, red and yellow which combine to form a solid and playful structure.
“The form comes from the idea of people interlocking in the public space,” said architect Ming Thompson ’04 BA, co-founder of ACT and lead designer of the project. “America is a tapestry of people, languages, and cultures that are woven together to become a stronger whole.”
“Interwoven” is now poised to enchant New Haven residents. Thompson is working with the City of New Haven to locate the structure in one of the city’s public parks.
The installation, which was on display in Manhattan from November 21, 2021 to January 2, 2022, is equipped with a series of sensors that trigger synchronized lights and music whenever two people walk together through one of a series of arches. As the pairs pass through all the arches simultaneously, an extended light show begins choreographed to a celebratory song.
“Friends could walk through the archways together and deliberately trigger the light show, or a pair of strangers could trigger the effects by chance,” Thompson said.
In addition to lights and music, the installation also includes an interactive story wall made up of backlit papers hung on a grid inviting visitors to share their responses to a prompt to speak their answer aloud. The prompt reads “I dream of a world where together we can…” Visitors’ handwritten responses create a patchwork of voices documenting hope in this difficult time, Thompson said.
Other Yalies involved in the project included Yale College student Joaquin Soto ’24 and Shikha Thakali ’21 Mr. Arch. Indistinguishable From Magic Inc., a company co-founded by Yalies Lance Chantiles ’19 BA and Isaac Shelanski ’19 BA, did the design and programming behind the interactive effects. New Haven-based musician Will Orzo composed the music for the project.
Doerfler on infant mortality and bereavement in the ancient world
As a graduate student, Maria Doerfler was translating a homily written on the death of a child in ancient Syria. The theme, child death, was quite rare in Late Antiquity writings, which Doerfler found unusual given the frequency of child mortality in the premodern world. Indeed, at the time, up to one in three people risked dying during the first year of life.
Doerfler, an assistant professor of religious studies, explores the theme more closely in her book “Jephthah’s Daughter, Sarah’s Son” (University of California Press), a social history that examines how extant texts helped shape early Christian grief. who have lost children. The book recently received the 2021 Best First Book in the History of Religions Award from the American Academy of Religion.
“I began to explore the possibility that the lives of children were important to Late Antiquity societies and to witness the efforts of homilists to speak of the challenges their deaths posed to families and communities,” she said. told the University of California Press blog. “Once I started following this lead, it became clear that only a monograph-sized project would even begin to do this subject justice.”
At the forefront of environmental injustice
Over her three-decade career at Yale, Hazel Carby has distinguished herself as one of the world’s foremost scholars of race, gender, and African American issues. She has now been appointed as a Centenary Professor at the International Inequalities Institute at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), where over the next year she will conduct research on inequalities related to climate change and other global environmental challenges.
“Poor Black, Brown and Indigenous peoples are the most vulnerable to the effects of exploitation, dispossession and environmental degradation rooted in colonialism and racial capitalism,” said Carby, Emeritus Professor of Afro Studies -Americans Charles C. and Dorothea S. Dilley. and Emeritus Professor of American Studies. Today, these communities are also at the forefront of mobilizing collective, cultural and political resistance to mining, fossil fuel extraction, toxic pollution and waste.
“It is imperative that our research and knowledge systems be propelled and informed by these sites of struggle and alternative ways of living with and on the earth if we are to have a future.
The healing power of stories
How do people heal from loss and trauma? Laura Wexler, Charles H. Farnam Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and American Studies, believes that one way is to tell visual stories, especially by telling stories with family photographs.
Over the next several years, Wexler will explore the restorative nature of photographic storytelling as a new member of the Hastings Center, a nonprofit, interdisciplinary research institute that addresses social and ethical issues in health care, science and technology, and helps bring key ethical and bioethical issues into the national conversation.
Wexler — who directs the Photographic Memory Workshop at Yale and is co-chair of the Public Humanities Program — was recently named one of the center’s 24 new fellows. The Hastings Center Fellows are a group of more than 200 individuals from disciplines as diverse as medicine, genomics, philosophy and social justice whose work has informed research and public understanding of complex ethical issues in health, science and technology.
Wexler believes greater imagination is needed to address such critical public issues as climate change, the disparate impacts of COVID-19, the effects of deindustrialization on communities, the trauma of forced migration, and more.
“We need more imaginative ways to counter the moral wounds of our time,” she said.
Mike Cummings, Susan Gonzalez and Kevin Dennehy contributed to this column. If you would like to suggest an article for a future Humanity column, please email Kevin Dennehy with a brief description of the news and key details.