Festival director’s welcome

An invitation to dream
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By Mary Lou Aleskie

Every year at Arts & Ideas, we try to build a festival that will be exciting for audiences here in New Haven, and that connects this community to the world at large. We had an especially unique opportunity this year, when the United Kingdom’s Bristol Old Vic approached us with the possibility of presenting its wildly imaginative new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which the theater was creating with Tom Morris and the Handspring Puppet Company — the makers of the internationally acclaimed Broadway play War Horse. We were inspired by their dreaming, creativity, and innovation, and we’ve built a festival that offers us all the chance to live our dreams and imagine new possibilities.

This year’s theme is “Dreaming New Worlds.” Artists and thinkers are dreamers: that is their job. But we, too, are dreamers. Who doesn’t spend some time each day considering new opportunities, thinking of new ways to address old problems, imagining new directions and paths to follow? We all do!

Gathering for this celebration are some of the most inventive creators from around the globe joining with the most imaginative of our own community to provoke and inspire us to dream beyond the status quo. People are dreaming about things big and small, whether it’s the mind-boggling theatrics of Montreal’s 7 Fingers in Sequence 8, reminding us of the limitless potential of the human spirit, or Freewheelers, created by New Haven’s own A Broken Umbrella Theatre, taking us back in time to reflect on our legacy as a city of inventors.

Dreamers are also dreaming about the issues of our time. In our “Ideas” program, Benjamin Barber wonders whether the world might be better organized if mayors ruled the world — an issue particularly relevant as we in New Haven begin pondering a transition of our own mayoral leadership. We’re also hosting a panel of national leaders in business innovation: What does it mean to be dreaming about change and change-making in our local-global economy? And, as we reconsider as a nation our immigration policies, there is Stuck Elevator, a critically acclaimed new musical from Byron Au Young and New Haven’s own Aaron Jafferis, giving us an intimate look at the life of an immigrant Chinese food delivery man and all that has him trapped.

Of course, dreaming can also be a lot of fun. David Dimitri’s one-man circus, Aaron Neville, the storied Kronos Quartet — these are people and artists who dreamed big and made it big on the international scene. And they are all here to inspire you.

What are you dreaming about? I invite you to dream with us this summer.

Mary Lou Aleskie is the International Festival of Arts & Ideas’ executive director.

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