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Local musician Sam Perduta, who is no stranger to the local stages in New Haven, is particularly excited about bringing the first rock show to The Institute Library’s reading room. Perduta’s band, Elison Jackson, will headline the event with guests Dr. Caterwauls Cadre of Clairvoyant Claptraps and These Busy People on May 17. The small room can comfortably fit about 60 people and should make for an intimate performance.

“There are no distractions,” Perduta said about choosing the library. “It is also the best place for sound.”

Unlike his usual gigs at bars up and down the East Coast, this show will do more than just highlight Elison Jackson’s signature sound. It will be a reflection of The Institute Library itself, which Perduta said “is all about collaboration and learning.”

Like Perduta, the folks involved in A Broken Umbrella Theatre are also introducing the community to unusual performance venues. From May 23 through June 8, the small theater group will present Gilbert the Great at the legendary Erector Square.

“Our performances are always a multilayered experience,” A Broken Umbrella Theatre’s Rachel Alderman said.

The production will present the story of A.C. Gilbert, an interesting figure who paid his Yale University tuition by performing magic tricks and selling magic books during the early 1900s. Gilbert is best known as the manufacturing pioneer who invented the erector set in the Erector Square building on Peck Street in New Haven. Exploring his legacy in New Haven and his personal drive and accomplishments, the performance is shaping up to be, dare we say, magical.

In addition to sharing Gilbert’s inspiring story, A Broken Umbrella Theatre is hoping to “change the way you view landscapes,” a goal the company tries to achieve with every performance. To provide a deeper look inside what Gilbert created in Erector Square, the company has partnered with the Eli Whitney Museum in Hamden to display some of Gilbert’s memorable inventions. In addition, the actors have been rehearsing with Chicago- based magician/actor David Parr, who is teaching historically meaningful tricks that Gilbert himself may have used.

“It’s a whimsical performance” Alderman said. “We even collected stories from people who worked in the factory.”

This article appears in the May issue of The Arts Paper. Read more from this issue online via Issuu here

Article by Stephen Grant, Communications Manager at the Arts Council of Greater New Haven