Guilford Performing Arts Festival Announces 2021 Schedule
Six World-Premiere Performances Plus Workshops September 25-26
GUILFORD—The Guilford Performing Arts Festival (GPAF) has announced its 2021 schedule: six world-premiere performances in dance, drama and music; seven public workshops in dance and drama; and six master classes/workshops for students in Guilford public schools. All public events will take place on Saturday, September 25, and Sunday, September 26, on the Guilford Green. As in past years, all will be free.
The festival will open Friday night, September 24, with a benefit party, Taste of the Festival, on the Green. It will feature short performances by all six festival artists, a small-plates meal, American arts-themed wine, local beer and soft drinks, and music by guitarist Steve Shelton’s Scoville Jazz Unit. Tickets are $125 per person and can be purchased at guilfordperformingartsfest.org/taste-of-the-festival/.
The impact of Covid-19 limited this year’s festival to six performances, all by recipients of GPAF’s 2020 Artists’ Awards, which granted funds to Connecticut artists to create or complete new work and premiere it at the festival. The artists are playwright Emily Breeze of Guilford and her collaborator, writer-musician Marialena DiFabbio; Ruth Lewis/Dimensional Dance of Hartford; writer and actress Julie Fitzpatrick of Guilford; jazz musician Skyler Hagner of Guilford; dancer and choreographer Iddi Saaka of Middletown; and Thomas/Ortiz Dance of New Canaan. There will be three performances on Saturday, September 25, and three on Sunday, the 26th.
Fitzpatrick will open Saturday’s shows at noon with the premiere of her spoken-word piece “All the World’s a Stage: A Guilford Love Story,” which is based on interviews with a diverse group of more than 70 Guilford residents during the height of the pandemic. It will be followed at 4 p.m. by Hagner’s suite for jazz nonet with narration “[Invisible Cities] Humanity, Memory and Decay,” inspired by author Italo Calvino’s imaginary conversations between explorer Marco Polo and the Mongol emperor Kublai Khan. Saturday’s third show will be Breeze and DiFabbio’s play “The Homewrecker,” which tests the line between homecoming and invasion, at 7 p.m.; parental discretion is advised for this performance.
Sunday’s shows begin at noon with Dimensional Dance’s “Prudence Crandall and Sarah Harris: Whole-Souled Women,” based on a true story of racial justice in Connecticut education. At 3 p.m., Saaka and dancer Shirley Sullivan will perform their dance duet “Blurring the Surface,” which explores dynamics between people of different races. Thomas/Ortiz Dance will close the festival at 6 p.m. with “Together,” which addresses themes of social isolation, cultural tolerance and the beauty found in difference. All six performances will be followed by audience conversations with the artists.
The festival will offer 13 workshops, seven open to the public of all ages and six for students only.
For the public, Fitzpatrick will facilitate creation of a community spoken-word piece on Saturday at 1:45 p.m.; Thomas/Ortiz will lead a dance workshop based on “Together” Sunday at 1:30 p.m., and Saaka will teach a workshop in West African dance, tradition and culture Sunday at 3:30 p.m. All three of these workshops will be held on the Guilford Green.
Thomas/Ortiz and Saaka will also teach free classes at Guilford’s Shoreline Ballet studio earlier that week, in Paul Taylor technique and West African dance, for intermediate and advanced dance students; each will also lead a movement workshop at Shoreline Ballet for differently abled participants. Class sizes at Shoreline Ballet are limited, and registration will be required. Dates, times and the registration process will be announced soon.
Breeze, Dimensional Dance and Hagner will lead workshops for students at Guilford High School and Guilford’s Adams Middle School; these will not be open to the public, and dates and times will be arranged between the artists and school faculty.
The festival is made possible in this challenging year by the generous support of the Guilford Foundation, the Connecticut Humanities Council, the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and the Guilford Fund for Education; Carol Sirot and an anonymous donor who funded several Artists’ Awards; sponsors/partners Shore Publishing, Shoreline Ballet, Palumbo’s Automotive, Tyco Print + Promo, The Marketplace at Guilford Food Center, Shoreline Arts Alliance, Walden Hill Woodworks, Legacy Theatre, Crosby Law Firm, Bishop’s Orchards, WMNR Fine Arts Radio, The Lee Company, Shoreline Financial Advisors and American Solutions for Business; and the many big-hearted donors who have contributed to the festival directly or via the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven’s 2020 and 2021 Great Give campaigns.