B.J. Novak as Ryan Howard on The Office

This Week in New Haven (September 29 - October 5)

“All politics is local,” but it doesn’t mean outsiders can’t try to make sense of things. Early this week, events underscoring big international political stories of the past couple years help us do just that. Then things take a decidedly local turn, with a major arts festival kicking off, an embarrassment of theatrical riches pulling us in different directions and a pair of city nonprofits letting their hair down.

Monday, September 29
#Babylon’13 is a series of on-the-ground short films documenting the global headline-making civil unrest that broke out in Ukraine in November 2013. But the events the series captures are often difficult to grasp due to language and culture barriers, a problem worsened by a lack of scrutable English translation via Youtube. Tonight after a 7:30 screening of the films in the Whitney Humanities Center (53 Wall St, New Haven), you can cut out the digital middlemen and ask the director himself, Yuri Gruzinov, exactly what it all means. Free.

Tuesday, September 30
Ever wonder how the news gets made at the big news organizations? Michael Forsythe, an award-winning correspondent for the New York Times, seems well-situated to demonstrate the process, and he’ll be doing that today in relation to a very specific, sometimes dangerous topic: uncovering the hidden financial wealth of China’s “political elite.” The free talk in Yale’s Luce Hall (34 Hillhouse Ave, New Haven) is titled “Following the Money in Chinese Politics,” during which Forsythe plans to show attendees “the source documents used to back up front-page stories” in the Times on this topic—and how they can do their own investigating even without major media company resources. No doubt he’ll also share fascinating tidbits about life in China and Hong Kong, where he’s been based.

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Wednesday, October 1
B.J. Novak (pictured above) is best-known for playing the hilarious do-nothing Ryan Howard on the U.S. version of The Office, yet behind the scenes he was one of the series’s most prolific writers, penning 15 episodes. Since then, in addition to an episode of The Mindy Project, he’s written two books, a collection of short stories called One More Thing and a children’s book called The Book With No Pictures. Buy one or the other through indie book shop R.J. Julia (768 Boston Post Rd, Madison; $17.99-24.95) to gain entry to a 6 p.m. in-store author event tonight, with one purchased book covering admission for up to two adults and two kids. It appears there may also be a limited number of free tickets available; call (203) 245-3959 to find out more.

Thursday, October 2
From 5 to 8 p.m. today and tomorrow, this year’s venue-hopping, multi-weekend visual arts bonanza City-Wide Open Studios is getting not one but two opening receptions hosted by organizer Artspace (50 Orange St, New Haven; 2030-772-2709). Perhaps it’s because there’ll be too much art to see in one go, with the gallery planning to display work from each of the festival’s more than 300 participating artists. Along with refreshments and stimulating ideas, be sure to pick up a guide map to the next three weekends of the festival, which carries the theme “Transported / Illuminated.”

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Our Town at Long Wharf Theatre

Friday, October 3
Tonight, Yale has more theater going on than you can shake a script at. At 8 p.m., Yale Rep (203-432-1234) opens its 2014-15 season in the University Theatre (222 York St, New Haven), with Tom Stoppard’s comedy-tinged Arcadia, dealing with “illicit passions and professional rivalries” in settings two-plus centuries apart. At 8 p.m. in the Yale Repertory Theatre (1120 Chapel St, New Haven), Yale Dramat stages Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, a “devastating drama” set in the aftermath of World War II that “holds a mirror up to its audience and contemporary American society, and reflects back a dark image.” At 3:30 and 8 p.m. in the Iseman Theatre (1156 Chapel St, New Haven), the Yale School of Drama puts on Clifford Odets’s Paradise Lost, a “vibrant and philosophical exploration into a middle-class home” set in Depression-era New York City. And over at the Whitney Humanities Center (53 Wall St, New Haven) at 8 p.m., there’s Liminal, an “original piece of audience participation ritual theater” by senior student Nathaniel Dolquist, who requests that ticket holders “wear clothes you can move/dance in.” With only 16 participants for each performance, Liminal appears to be all booked up, but you can still request a spot on the waitlist.

Saturday, October 4
Centered around its offices at 419 Whalley Avenue, the Community Action Agency of New Haven holds its “Passport to Prosperity Walk & Activity Day” today. The idea behind the three-mile walk, commencing at 10 a.m. (registration opens at 8:30), is to raise funds for CAANH’s “programs and services that promote self-sufficiency” for the families it works with, from housing assistance to financial literacy to basic computer skills. We’re told the activity day, which runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., boasts family-friendly attractions including a dunk tank, face-painting, “games of chance,” a fire truck, a DJ and foods from Thai to Italian.

Sunday, October 5
The New Haven Land Trust mixes bus-iness with pleasure during today’s “Habitat, Harvest, and Happy Hour” fundraiser. The first piece of the itinerary, leaving from Ordinary (990 Chapel St, New Haven) at 4:30 p.m., involves a “comfortable coach bus” tour of local nature preserves and community gardens. Then, at 6:30, the group returns to Ordinary for the second half of the fun—a two-hour party full of complimentary wine and beer, plus cheese and charcuterie courtesy of Caseus. Tickets covering both the tour and happy hour cost $80 each; a ticket for the party alone runs $45.

Written by Dan Mims. Photo, taken by Justin Lubin for NBC, depicts B.J. Novak as Ryan Howard in The Office.

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