Hammonassett Festival in Madison, CT

This Week in New Haven (September 28 - October 4)

Ascendant literati descend on New Haven this week, and are met by a potent stew of quirky movies, concerts in Halls, luminary parties and Native American culture.

Monday, September 28
“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live,” wrote Henry David Thoreau. The Windham Campbell Festival, administered through Yale’s Beinecke Library and kicking off in earnest today, means to help excellent writers both live and write. It does this by awarding “unrestricted” $150,000 grants to exceptional fiction, non-fiction and dramatic scribes from around the world, and by giving them several days to inspire, and get inspired by, New Haveners. After this evening’s 5 p.m. awards ceremony in Morse Recital Hall (470 College St, New Haven), where longtime New Yorker critic Hilton Als delivers the keynote address, an itinerary of more than 20 events involving the honored writers unfolds through Thursday around downtown New Haven. Ranging from intimate group tea sessions to a tentpole “Prizewinners Reading,” all occasions are free and open to the public.

Tuesday, September 29
The line, “Until he develops an immune system of his own, he’ll have to remain in his protective environment,” pretty well sums up the premise of The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (1976), a little-screen movie on ABC that helped one of its stars, John Travolta, launch a big-screen career in Hollywood. First aired two years before Grease and one year before Saturday Night Fever, Plastic Bubble screens twice tonight at Lyric Hall (827 Whalley Ave, New Haven; 203-389-8885) as part of the venue’s “Saloon Cinema” series, with admission to 7:30 and 9:30 showings costing just a buck.

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Disgraced at Long Wharf Theatre

Wednesday, September 30
The Jesus and Mary Chain’s tinny, breathy vocalizing, hazy, distortion-glazed guitar-ing and predilection for electronic drumming have together seen the band through rotating punk, noise, industrial, new wave, rock, shoegaze and alt-pop moments. Tonight the rotation comes to College Street Music Hall (238 College St, New Haven; 877-987-6487), as the reunited band, which often sounds like an even more disillusioned version of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, celebrates the 30th anniversary of Psychocandy, its wave-making debut record. Opening the 8 p.m. show is The Black Ryder, which carries the distortion torch to less rock-y, more reverb-y depths. $35.

Thursday, October 1
The New Haven Symphony Orchestra, one of America’s oldest, opens its 122nd season tonight at Woolsey Hall (500 College St, New Haven) with a show titled “Dvorak, Grieg and Lash,” reflecting three of the four composers represented in the program. The fourth is Jean Sebelius, the Finnish composer whose career was beginning to take off at about the time the NHSO was forming across the Atlantic in 1894. Tickets cost between $15 and $74, with discounts for college students, and thanks to this being a special “School Night at the Symphony,” admission is free for “all K-12 students, teachers, staff and their families” who register in advance. (203) 865-0831 x20.

Friday, October 2
Tonight’s many-bulbed Illuminate On9 bonanza in the Ninth Square helps light the way to the City-Wide Open Studios festival happening throughout October, and to several parties and after-parties happening tonight. Amid light installations along Orange Street, including one courtesy of fellow Ninth-Squarer Make Haven, CWOS organizer Artspace (50 Orange St, New Haven) hosts the festival’s opening reception—brimming with works by each of CWOS’s many participating artists—from 5 to 8 p.m., while just up the road, also from 5 to 8, Reynolds Fine Art (96 Orange St) throws a wine-and-cheese party to kick off a new exhibition of works by Margot Nimiroski and Mary Black. At 8, Artspace “invites guests to move outside” for “Fantasmagorie,” in which “the streets… will be aglow with a group exhibition of artists working with light,” while around the corner, also starting at 8, The Happiness Lab coffee shop (756 Chapel St) is throwing an “unofficial” after-party with BYOB dancing, food trucks and “lots of neon.” Finally, at 9:30, L.A.M.P.—Light Artists Making Places—illuminates Crown Street toward after-parties at Firehouse 12 (45 Crown St) and Cafe Nine (250 State St).

Saturday, October 3
Celebrating “Native American heritage and environmental education,” the Hammonassett Festival happens today and tomorrow at Meigs Point within Madison’s Hammonasset Beach State Park. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days, “authentic Native American arts and crafts will be available for purchase,” organizers say, “including beadwork, gourd art and wood carvings, wampum jewelry and knotted jewelry, clothing and accessories and much more,” along with “vendors… preparing and serving a variety of foods, including traditional and contemporary Native American cuisine.” In addition to wildlife demonstrations and cultural music/dancing, the festival is hosting the “New England Atlatl Championships,” in which each competitor will presumably try to fling his or her spear the furthest and/or most accurately using an atlatl (like a sling, for spears). Free to attend.

Sunday, October 4
The Yale Film Colloquium’s free “Bad Girls” screening series continues this afternoon with Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown (1997), an offbeat caper flick starring Pam Grier in which the truth of what’s happening is usually a step or two ahead of both the viewer and most everyone on screen. The film draws inspiration from the “blaxploitation” movies of the 1970s, which have been criticized for presenting black characters in ways that reinforce negative stereotypes and prejudices. However, treated with Tarantino’s signature mix of creative interest and cultural critique, Jackie Brown is a richer work as a result, while also delivering the kinds of twists and turns that keep people tuned in ’til the closing credits. As for the opening credits, they get rolling at 3 p.m. inside the Whitney Humanities Center (53 Wall St, New Haven).

Written by Dan Mims. Readers are encouraged to verify times, locations and prices before attending events.

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