Festival 21 in Reviews

Festival 21 has been making news with national, regional, and local press covering our World and U.S. Premieres, and world-class performers across all genres. Celebrate their accomplishments with a look back at our Festival in Reviews.

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour: U.S. Premiere

“Vibrant performances and the show’s raunchy good humor draw you in". . . "Why not embrace the here and now with as much fearlessness as you can muster?" -New York Times

"The show is as cathartic as it is comic". . . "it deserves to be seen by people who recall their own times of rebellion and escape." -Hartford Courant

"From its outset to its end, Our Ladies and its tenacious cast delight in their refusal to compromise. . . .a coming-of-age comedy that offers a feminist and acutely class-conscious take on that old theme of figuring it all out." -New Haven Independent

Wendy Whelan / Brian Brooks / Brooklyn Rider
Some of a Thousand Words: World Premiere & Festival Co-Commission

“They play with chasing, catching, propelling and restraining each other, reflecting both the fragmentation and the flow of the music.”  -New York Times

“A work of outstanding vibrancy, power, and heart, it stands as a testament to exactly where Whelan wants to be as a human and as a dancer, and the culmination of an artistic process in which success was not certain.” -New Haven Independent


The Square Root of Three Sisters: World Premiere

“Mr. Krymov’s play is about the perils of making art. ‘It’s a story about a company of actors who are coming into this space and creating in front of our eyes their version of Three Sisters that they must show to us today, right now. And while they’re trying to do that, they’re essentially being kicked out of the theater.’” -New York Times

“A world-premiere collaboration between Russian theater director Dmitry Krymov, faculty members from the Yale School of Drama and Yale Theater Studies programs. . . the production is an excellent example of contemporary theater artists attempting to come to terms with legacies, histories and texts that can either hamper or inspire their creative process.” -Hartford Courant

Maria Schneider Orchestra: Festival Co-Commission

"This isn't music filled with angst and darkness. Schneider's pieces bubble and swoop with a sense of joy and poetry, drawing connections to bird song or prairie vistas, and blending together improvisatory freedom with set-to-the-page composed structure." -Hartford Courant

The Bookbinder: U.S. Premiere

“An intimate, lean-in-close manipulation of words, shadows, puppets and especially books. A slightly scary story was brought to life through storytelling and an array of voices, but especially through a stack of intricate pop-up books.” -Hartford Courant


Yang Hao Pied a Terre & Middle: U.S. Premiere

"The Chinese dancer and performance artist, in his solo pieces had a disarming way of seemingly stopping his performance to ask the audience directly for their opinions, then turning those humble, very real-seeming moments into rehearsed, repetitive series of physical gestures. It was a display of beauty, calm grace and provocative psychological mystery." -Hartford Courant

The Money: U.S. Premiere

“The Money isn't about the money. In a way, it's about how we make decisions collectively. The point of the show is the process, not really what people decide in the end -- or even whether they decide." 
-Creator Seth Honnor with NPR


Abraham.In.Motion Live Music Program

"The dancers spin, pose, slowly bend. Arms glide, but not in flight. Spirits soar, but not with false exuberance. The wonder of Kyle Abraham's work is how grounded it is, how affected it is by the wearying pressures of human existence." -CT NOW

Air Play

“The main props of Air Play — balloons (including ones so large that the clowns could disappear inside them), long bolts of translucent cloth, and the air itself (mainly blown by a circle of electric fans) — are so delicate, so fragile, so light as air. You feel you're witnessing divine natural occurrences rather than carefully devised circus stunts." -Hartford Courant

Steel Hammer from SITI Company

“Currently on a national tour, is most resonant when its six-person cast becomes an extension of the live music ensemble, adding to the already complex rhythms by dancing and clapping and body-slapping and running in circles until they reached a point of true physical exhaustion.” -Hartford Courant

Cirque Mechanics with the New Haven Symphony Orchestra

"In a dazzling dovetail of classical and contemporary, formal and flamboyant, local and not, the NHSO and New York-based Cirque Mechanics closed out this year’s International Festival of Arts & Ideas Saturday night doing what the symphony perhaps do best: Having a ton of fun with music, and bringing it back to the public. . . .There’s a sudden, distinct thrill in being presented with something gorgeous and whimsical, and the members of the troupe play right into that feeling, delighting in their own quirkiness as they take the stage by storm." -New Haven Independent