To Do

To Do

The signs are everywhere. Underfoot, overhead and at eye level, too. They’re in windows and stands, on sidewalks and street poles. Yesterday afternoon, the biggest of them all ascended high over the New Haven Green.

And as of today, those signs are official. The 2016 International Festival of Arts & Ideas is now underway. With nearly 250 things to do over the next 16 days, using the festival’s online calendar to plan is a virtual necessity. Helping narrow things down, you can search by “event type” filters like “Food Experiences” or “tag” filters like “Circus.”

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Fleeing Famine at Knights of Columbus Museum

Not us, though. We combed through the entire list, then picked out plans tailored to the characters that give our city so much character:

The Futurists
Technology is your friend. Science is your jam. You wonder where they, and thus we, are headed. After touring a facility tied to the most precious resource of the future—a water treatment plant—check out a show-and-tell session about the science of cooking. See how the past was transformed for the present and get an inside look at “state-of-the-art design and manufacturing tools.” Glimpse into the future of politics in America, but not before visiting a place built around an inherently future-minded act: “planting seeds.”

The Awe-some
To you, a deep capacity for wonderment and astonishment makes uncommonly large trees as compelling as grand acrobatic spectacle. A pair of clowns with a flair for visual drama make a good catalyst too, as does a cerebral stage work that, if you’re a regular theatergoer, might offer some excitingly familiar faces. Meanwhile, a talk with the thesis, “Bikes may be the most powerful vehicle of happiness, hope and healing ever created,” really gets your gears going.

The Critical Thinkers
Not satisfied with the surface stuff, you want the deeper truth. Find kindred spirits in a filmmaker who’s been “turning out innovative and important documentaries at an astonishing rate” and a New Yorker writer who critiques things for a living. Later, consider “alternative models” for the music industry with a panel of experts, including a Grammy-winning artist who’s performing the next day. Later still, dig into the roots of hip-hop during a session that includes a dance-along to songs by the late, great Prince.

The Bootyshakers
For you, ground zero is tomorrow night’s tentpole concert featuring George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, though you’ll have much more room to dance during a funky daytime show by Keepers of the Vibe. To improve your moves between showing them off, check out master classes and workshops by festival performers, like one prioritizing “exploration, musicality, abandonment and intuition” and another that might get you on stage for an actual performance. You can also work on your circus moves. Just be sure to “wear comfortable clothing and bring a bottle of water.”

The Nomads
Get antsy staying in one place too long? A puzzle/scavenger hunt around the city should be right up your alley. So should a tour of gardens and gargoyles, a gastronomic tour of Grand Avenue and a bike ride visiting various local food spots to collect the components of a picnic.

The Rebels
You break the rules when they don’t make sense, and you’re not afraid to deviate otherwise. So you can appreciate a play full of Catholic schoolgirls in revolt, or a yoga class on a bigger mission, or genre-smashing world music (1, 2), or a non-classical take on classical, or the innovative tale of a “steel-driving railroad worker who won his challenge with a machine, but lost his life.”

If that last sentence feels like it’s got a lot of “or”s, well, that’s just the nature of the moment. We’ve got hundreds of doings to choose from, and about two weeks to do them.

Written and photographed by Dan Mims.

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