Exchange by A Broken Umbrella Theatre

The Feeling‘s Mutual

A photo essay. To view all 34 images, check out the email version.

Saturday and Sunday, it was Westville Weekend, the opening salvo for this year’s City-Wide Open Studios.

sponsored by

GRL and Realtors, LLC, serving New Haven, CT

As usual, artists gave. Drag queens poured their hearts out—milkshakes, too. Congolese refugee Toto Kisaku used shadows to conjure state oppression. Conceptual artist Howard el-Yasin offered visitors bananas to eat.

More than usual, they gave audiences permission to give back. Encouraged to do so, viewers handed the queens dollar bills. They discussed Kisaku’s shadows with him during post-performance sit-downs. They gave el-Yasin their peels, which he’s collecting for a planned installation.

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Guys & Dolls - New Haven Symphony Orchestra

Nobody underscored the spirit of exchange as thoroughly as A Broken Umbrella Theatre, whose new, family-oriented work—which encores during the second and fourth weekends of CWOS—is literally titled Exchange. Its cast of 11 zany phone line technicians, or “linemen,” dial up the local and universal significance of a technology invented right here in New Haven: the telephone exchange. In the months leading up to the premiere, the theater company asked locals to record personal memories of life with line-connected telephones. Some of those recordings are played during the play.

El-Yasin’s invitation to exchange with him was simpler but just as explicit. “PARTICIPATE,” urged a slip of paper tacked to the wall of his studio, and, as a series of baggies filled with fresh banana peels indicated, many people did.

Written and photographed by Dan Mims.

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