Satellite Festival Takes Off

In the Yale Cabaret’s basement theater, Michael Costagliola was strumming away at his guitar, head bobbing above a tight black turtleneck. Images of guns, then President Donald Trump’s inner circle flashed behind him. His shoulders rocked ever so gently with the words. 

“How many white dudes do we have to kill/before we get to a standard of decency?” he sang. The room came alive with a rash of laughter, then quieted again. The list went on. 

Just one floor up, the room filled with a very different chorus—close to 15 female voices, echoey and overlapping as they recounted what it was like to be a woman of color in New Haven, and in the world. The film where they appeared flickered in blues and yellow, a student-turned-goddess flashing in and out of sequences. Antoinette Crowe-Legacy’s She x God was well underway. 

Costagliola and Crowe-Legacy are just two of 19 acts at the Yale Cabaret’s third annual satellite festival, expanded this year to include Yale College, Yale School of Art and Yale School of Management. After launching into orbit on Thursday night, the festival continues Friday and Saturday with a rotating slate of performances at 8 and 10 p.m. each evening. More tickets and information here.   

This year, festival organizers sought to continue the 50th anniversary season’s overarching goal of reaching out into the New Haven community and engaging creatives outside of the Yale School of Drama. Working together, curators Jeremy O. Harris and Amauta Marston-Firmino and producer Carl Holvick established themes, looking to the cab’s history for inspiration. 

The three dove into cab history, sniffing around its archive to discover that there was no through line—except perhaps the permission to fail, and experiments that sprang therefrom. 

“They’ve cast a much wider net,” Managing Director Rachel Shuey said in an interview earlier this week. “That’s what’s fun about it— selecting all the pieces to try out in new places.”

Each night, for instance, audiences can see a performance-meets-installation set in the back of a student’s Chevy Suburban, which takes only one or two attendees at a time. Or there’s Hey Secret Service: The Musical, the sort of sequel to Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson that Michael Friedman never had. A drag troupe that will sashay through on Friday, then yield the floor to sea witches, puppetry, and forays into filmmaking from students who are usually in front of the camera. 

The works span genres: they’re wide-reaching, some funny and brooding (Ben Anderson’s Sad songs for generally happy people) and others profound and timely. Shadi Ghaheri’s Post Scream and Terror is her final, post-Yazdgerd bow, incorporating the propulsive choreography and dive into the inner psyche that have so distinguished her during her time here. Lacey Lennon’s Intake, BBC, Markle, gets at something that we’ve all secretly been thinking about. 

For Shuey, that’s the point.

“The cab has been so all over the map for 50 years,” she said. “So this—it’s just very much in the spirit of it."

Lucy Gellman